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Food Culture in France

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Food Culture in


Food Culture around the World Ken Albala, Series Editor

GREENWOOD PRESS Westport, Connecticut · London

users should apply judgment and experience when preparing recipes. ISBN 0–313–32797–1 (alk. 2. by any process or technique.—(Food culture around the Printed in the United States of America The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39. ISSN 1545–2638) Includes bibliographical references and index.A237 2007 641. especially parents and teachers working with young people. Westport. French. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006031524 ISBN-10: 0–313–32797–1 ISBN-13: 978–0–313–32797–1 ISSN: 1545–2638 First published in 2007 Greenwood Press. . No portion of this book may be reproduced. Copyright © 2007 by Julia Abramson All rights reserved. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 The publisher has done its best to make sure the instructions and/or recipes in this book are correct. Inc.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Abramson. TX719. The publisher accepts no responsibility for the outcome of any recipe included in this volume. Julia. cm. www. CT 06881 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group. Food culture in France / Julia Abramson. I. Title.5'944—dc22 2006031524 British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available. p. without the express written consent of the publisher. However.48–1984). 88 Post Road West.greenwood. paper) 1. Cookery. Food habits—France.

Major Foods and Ingredients 3. Diet and Health vii ix xi xiii 1 41 81 103 117 137 155 169 171 175 185 Glossary Resource Guide Selected Bibliography Index .Contents Series Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction Timeline 1. Eating Out 6. Typical Meals 5. Historical Overview 2. Cooking 4. Special Occasions 7.


It provides the material basis for rituals through which people celebrate the passage of life stages and their connection to divinity. and fears. and develop unique cuisines reveals much more about what it is to be human. and illustrations. I am honored to have been associated with this project as series editor. preoccupations. with a chronology of food-related dates and narrative chapters entitled Introduction. Finding or growing food has of course been the major preoccupation of our species throughout history.Series Foreword The appearance of the Food Culture around the World series marks a definitive stage in the maturation of Food Studies as a discipline to reach a wider audience of students. come to esteem or shun specific foods. general readers. Special Occasions. bibliography. a remarkable team of experts from around the world offers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role of food in shaping human culture for a whole new generation. Each also includes a glossary. Historical Overview. Major Foods and Ingredients. There is perhaps no better way to understand a culture. each on the food culture of a country or region for which information is most in demand. Food provides the daily sustenance around which families and communities bond. Typical Meals. Food preferences also serve to separate individuals . its values. and foodies alike. Each volume follows a series format. than by examining its attitudes toward food. Cooking. and Diet and Health. Eating Out. but how various peoples around the world learn to exploit their natural resources. In comprehensive interdisciplinary reference volumes. resource guide.

Ken Albala University of the Pacific . To know how and why these losses occur today also enables us to decide what traditions. By studying the foodways of people different from ourselves we also grow to understand and tolerate the rich diversity of practices around the world. Whether it is eating New Year’s dumplings in China. emotionally and spiritually become what we eat. or going out to a famous Michelin-starred restaurant in France. whether from our own heritage or that of others. we wish to keep alive. folding tamales with friends in Mexico. and as one of the most powerful factors in the construction of identity.viii Series Foreword and groups from each other. What seems strange or frightening among other people becomes perfectly rational when set in context. In many cases these books describe ways of eating that have already begun to disappear or have been seriously transformed by modernity. It is my hope that readers will gain from these volumes not only an aesthetic appreciation for the glories of the many culinary traditions described. we physically. but also about ourselves and who we hope to be. As globalization proceeds apace in the twenty-first century it is also more important than ever to preserve unique local and regional traditions. These books are thus not only about the food and culture of peoples around the world. but also ultimately a more profound respect for the peoples who devised them. understanding these food traditions helps us to understand the people themselves.

Discerning eaters and accomplished cooks. Young shared with me their enthusiasm for French food and have steadfastly encouraged mine. Of all my debts. and thoughtful participants in the culture of their own country. In this time. generous hosts. Through her good humor this book has been much enriched. and Charles Walton. editor for the Greenwood Press world food culture series. and Wendi Schnaufer. many people have opened their doors to me and shared their meals and food lore. . wit. Ken Albala. I am profoundly grateful for this hospitality and for these many personalized introductions to the food cultures of France. senior editor at the Press. who nourished my interest in food from the very beginning. who read drafts of these chapters. I have been traveling regularly to France to live and work. I am grateful to Kyri Watson Claflin. This book is for them. Norman Stillman. and Carolin C. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. and precision to what must have seemed like endless questions about her family life. made it possible for me to write this book. Barbara Ketcham Wheaton. Alison Matthews-David. that to my cousin Charlotte Berger-Grenèche and to Franç ois Depoil is by far the greatest. Layla Roesler responded with grace. Beatrice Fink.Acknowledgments For two decades and more. Thanks are due to the wonderfully supportive community of scholars interested in food history and in France. Charlotte and Franç ois more than anyone else have taught me what it means to eat à la française. their conversation and friendship. to research and write. convivial. and it is for my parents.

Pamela Genova. I thank the undergraduate students who have taken my seminars on food and culture (Honors College) and on French food and film (Program in Film and Video Studies) and the graduate students in my course on French gastronomic literature (Department of Modern Languages. My warm thanks especially to Hervé Depoil for doing le maxi. Their unfailing intellectual curiosity fueled my own enthusiasm for the topics covered in this volume. Andy Horton. food. Literatures. Janine Depoil. Nadine Leick. Helga Madland. Hervé Depoil. Edward Sankowski. For their enthusiastic participation. and conversation across cultures. Many of the passages in this book were written with my students in mind. Finally. Arnold Matthews. hard work. and Christian Verdet. . and their questions usually led us all directly to the heart of the matter. and Linguistics).x Acknowledgments For the photographs I am indebted to Philippe Bornier. They have been generous beyond measure for the sake of friendship. Zev Trachtenberg. colleagues and students at the university where I have taught for the last seven years have supported my engagement in the study of food history and cultures. and of course to Sarah Tracy. At the University of Oklahoma a special thank you goes to Paul Bell. and frank questions.

Introduction Nearly every American has some idea about French food. a plate of silky foie gras. people are much .F. The subtle coherence of flavors and the dignified unfolding of the several-course meals that are now standard are at once seductive. Of course. Snails and frogs feature in the cuisine. soothing. Fisher’s memoirs. The export of Champagne and adaptations of the breakfast croissant have made these items standard units in the international food currency. as well. What interested eater would not be moved by French food? In poorer kitchens. and tantalizing sausages.K. For those who dine out. Since the Second World War. and stimulating. or a fragrant piece of baguette still warm from the oven has perhaps been a gastronomic revelation. generations of resourceful cooks have perfected ingenious yet practical ways of transforming the meanest bits of meat and aging root vegetables into rich stews. the many French cookbooks published in the United States since the mid-twentieth century have guided experiments in the kitchen. nourishing soups. M. Nonetheless. however. such as Samuel Chamberlain’s columns in the early issues of Gourmet magazine. affluence has reshaped the diet for much of the French population. For those who have traveled abroad. and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. the ideal for an elegant. For curious home cooks. glamorous restaurant meal is often a French one. it is an error to imagine that these murky creatures play a large role in everyday eating. Arm-chair travelers will have read the great American chronicles of life and food in France. a few clichés persist. a bite of milky crisp fresh almond.

to the writings of historians and cultural critics. from cookbooks and personal experience. hard-working. rather than appearing on the table all at once? How is it possible to eat this succession of foods without becoming uncomfortably full. As the aim has been to provide a three-dimensional picture of food customs. and desperately unhealthy. Bonne lecture (happy reading) and bon appétit! .xii Introduction more likely to shop for food at one of the many discount stores than at picturesque outdoor markets. The recipes that appear in the text correspond to a few of the typical dishes that come under discussion. to recent studies by ethnologists and sociologists. So what do the 60 million French of today really eat on a daily basis? Here is the essential question that this book addresses. To understand the full significance of the table customs. does this population of productive. including workday meals. It is hoped that these resources as well as the selection of Web sites and films will provide the reader with a point of departure for further exploration. public policy addressing food quality. when the country actually has the best-developed and most heavily used canteen system in Europe? Food Culture in France answers these questions and many others. The bibliography at the end of the volume lists the references consulted for each chapter and includes a list of cookbooks. secular individualists march practically in lockstep to the dining room. trends in restaurant cooking. the book also treats the issues of why and how foods are eaten. from meal to meal. Throughout. That the French drink only rarefied bottled spring waters (when not drinking wine)is in fact one of the new myths. attitudes toward health. although these are practically a national treasure. the approach is inclusive. yet in fact enjoy an unusually high standard of health. as a nation? Why. celebration meals. at noon. Why is it that the different dishes in an everyday meal are eaten successively in separate courses. an attempt is made to provide both the historical information necessary to illuminate contemporary food culture and full descriptions of today’s practices. and changing views of wine. The chapters that follow draw on a wide range of sources. over time? How is it that the French cultivate pleasure rather than count calories. causing nearly everything from Dunkerque to Cannes to grind to a halt for the sacred lunch break? Why do the French themselves regard eating lunch in school and business cafeterias as an anomaly.

Forest animals such as deer and wild boar multiply.C.E.E.000 B.C. The bow and arrow.E. Old Stone Age nomads hunt big game and gather plants for food.E. Food sources change as glaciers recede. chestnuts. elements in the Mediterranean diet. and millet. Greek merchants from Phocaea establish a colony at Massilia (Marseille) where they plant olive trees for oil and grape vines for wine.C. 800 B.Timeline ca. Iron Age Celts fit iron cutting edges on ploughs used to till soil. goats. Reindeer retreat to colder northern regions.C. New Stone Age people farm and tend herds. ca.C. Charcoal and ochre drawings of bulls and reindeer in the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne show main Ice Age food sources. including snails. corn. make hunting easier. barley. improving farm production. Domesticates include sheep. 10. .E. 6000 B. Forests provide berries. 600 B. Humans eat mollusks. cattle. and hazelnuts.E.000 B.E.C.000–9000 B. 8000 B.C. 30.000–14. and the companionship of domesticated dogs. 16.

1317 1341 1468 . The population grows. The Valois monarch Philip VI (1293–1350) introduces the grande gabelle (salt tax) in the north. ginger. Famine forces innovation in bread-making. Knights and soldiers return from the First and Second Crusades bringing lemons and spices: saffron. chronicler Gregory of Tours notes that people supplemented wheat flour with pounded grape seeds and ferns. The site becomes the market Les Halles. The Roman-engineered Pont-du-Gard aqueduct daily transports 20. and sugar. Gallic regional specialties include grain (Beauce). cinnamon. Flemish and Italian merchants arrive with spices and other exotics. Timeline Julius Caesar annexes Gallic lands to the Empire.E. sheep (Ardennes).xiv 51 B. The Salic legal code issued in Paris under King Clovis specifies punishments for anyone who attacks a neighbor’s grape vines. The abbot Adalhard of Corbie records that monks are adding hops flowers to their ale.C. City and monastic trade fairs in the Champagne region are international. making true beer. Legend has it that he concealed his troops in wine barrels. The feast for Charles the Bold of Burgundy’s wedding 19 B. In The History of the Franks (593–94). 585 780 822 1000–1300 1110 1148.000 cubic meters (about 26. forces Saracen warriors to retreat from the southern territories. mace and nutmeg. Cannibalism and crime follow widespread famines.C. cumin. cloves. 481–511 C.E.E. Languedoc). Saint William of Gellone. Louis VI (The Fat) allows fishmongers to set up stands outside his palace walls in Paris. and wine (Roussillon. A Roman-style forum or market and public meeting space is added to each Gallic town. cardamom.000 cubic yards) of water to urban areas. 1204 1150–1310 1315. Renaissance elites are conspicuous consumers. geese (Artois). one of Charlemagne’s paladins. People clear forest and drain marshland to cultivate grains for bread.

Physicist Denys Papin. 2. 2. Courtiers now use forks. François Pierre de La Varenne publishes the cookbook Le Cuisinier françois. 1476 King Louis XI (1461–1483) decrees that butchers slaughter pigs and sell raw pork. about a race of giants. peppers. but chaircutiers (charcutiers) sell cooked and cured pork and raw pork fat. invents the pressure cooker. 2. the first successful café in France and still in business today. 1600 1606 1651 1667 1669 1672 1681 1685 . For flavoring.640 pigeons. 1502 1534 ca. in residence in England. Massive feasts are central to the social satire. Turkish ambassador to the court of Louis XIV. 3.500 sheep. 11. Suleiman Aga.Timeline xv includes 200 oxen. Peasant families who survived the bubonic plague and Hundred Years War and Wars of Religion clear land to plant new crops: cold-hardy buckwheat and New World maize. Coffee is sold at a temporary café at the St. but Louis XIV (1643–1715) uses his fingers to eat.668 wolves. The “digester” efficiently reduces solid foods nearly to liquid.100 peacocks. Henri IV (1589–1610) declares his wish that “every peasant may have a chicken in the pot on Sundays. The manuscript Le Viandier by Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent) appears in print as an early cookbook.600 shoulders of mutton. 3. 63 pigs. Physician and priest François Rabelais publishes the novel Gargantua. serves coffee at Versailles. Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus encounters foods hitherto unknown in the Old World: sweet potatoes. maize. Protestants flee.800 chickens. chocolate. he privileges herbs and onions over spices. Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes (1598).” Hunger and poverty are widespread.500 calves. Within the decade the Café Procope. and vanilla. will open in Paris.640 swans.000 pounds of lard. Germain fair. 18. and 1. and the country reverts to strict observance of Catholic feast and fast days. 1. 1486 1492–1494.

Louis XV (1715–1774) favors small. and a mob retorts by attacking the Bastille prison.xvi 1709 1735 Timeline An unusually cold winter sets in early and kills crops. Louis XVIII. Famine and grain riots break out. Most people subsist on bread. Peasants and urban dwellers riot to protest grain shortages. In prison since late January 1791. The National Assembly abolishes the hated and much-abused salt tax. intimate suppers over state banquets and personally makes omelets and coffee for selected guests. and noted gourmand CharlesMaurice de Talleyrand-Périgord wines and dines European ministers. Two years later he modernizes the meal: he recommends serving dishes one by one in sequence. which costs nearly 60 percent of their income. and fruits to provision Napoleon’s troops. la gabelle. Louis XVI sends troops against the newly formed National Assembly. Modern-style restaurants. Nicolas Appert opens a vacuum-bottling factory. Grimod de la Reynière publishes the first narrative restaurant guide for Paris. open in Paris. so that they can be enjoyed hot. Cadet de Gassicourt publishes a “gastronomic map. Louis XVI dies at the guillotine. With the help of Louis XVI. he has been eating several-course meals while famine plagues France. He preserves meats. diplomat. They concede to his demands for the restored Bourbon monarch. the naturalist AntoineAuguste Parmentier promotes the still-unpopular potato as an alternative to grains. bishop. At the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars. The 1760s 1775 1785 1787 1789 1790 1793 1803 1804 1808 1814–1815 . vegetables.” Pictures of apples and cider bottles in Normandy and ducks at Alençon visually connect taste to place. with menus and private tables. Rioting abounds during the Revolution and hunger is prevalent.

which simplifies and systematizes the sauces and cooking methods that compose elegant cuisine. Ferdinand Carré demonstrates his ammonia absorbtion unit. Louis Pasteur applies heat and pressure to sterilize milk. Prussian troops occupy the capital. The colonial empire will expand to include Senegal (1857). Jules Méline draws up protectionist tariffs for agricultural production.200 calories per day per person. The black market for food flourishes. Meat prices escalate. Bread is rationed. rationing allows for 1. Import duties on sugar make it unaffordable to most. the technology that was the basis for the first industrial refrigerators. 1859 1861 1870 1870s 1883 1892 1903 1905 1919 1927 1940 1943 . Parliament rules that only wine bottled within the demarcated Champagne area may be labeled as “Champagne. Grape phylloxerae devastate vines across France. The Orient Express makes its inaugural run from Paris to Constantinople. and Morocco (1912). with several-course meals served in elegant restaurant cars. The network of trains encourages peasants to farm beyond self-sufficiency and to specialize. Life expectancy drops by eight years. Tunisia (1881). Under German occupation during the Vichy period.” France capitulates to Germany during the Second World War. Food prices are at a premium. The law will stand until it is integrated into the European food safety code in 1993. Chef Auguste Escoffier publishes Le guide culinaire.Timeline xvii great chef Marie-Antoine Carême is Talleyrand’s right-hand man for political strategy at table. Indochina (1859–1863). A new federal law prohibits fraud in the sale of food. and desperate Parisians resort to eating zoo animals. 1830 French forces take Algiers.

Chef Paul Bocuse and baker Lionel Poilâne unsuccessfully lobby Pope John Paul II to remove gourmandise (gluttony) from the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. Consumption of chicken drops in March. farmer José Bové vandalizes a partially constructed McDonald’s restaurant in Millau. vegetables. He emphasizes small portions. Debate continues over whether genetically modified foods and advertising for fast food should be banned in France and Europe. Half of all French households own a refrigerator. The law (of August 2004) that called for this measure aimed to reduce the consumption of sweets and sugared drinks associated with rising obesity levels among children and young people. All automatic vending machines are gone from public schools by the time the fall term begins. Press reports defend the national cuisine in a society marked by Europeanization. Chef Michel Guérard serves cuisine minceur—light or diet food—at his spa and restaurant.” Robert Courtine’s pseudonym evokes Grimod de la Reynière. The Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris serves its onemillionth canard à presse (roasted pressed duck). then rises again. To protest against junk food and the presence of foreign corporate interests in the local food chain. The weekly newspaper Le Monde runs a column on dining called “The Pleasures of the Table” signed “La Reynière. avoids salt and animal fats. 1965 1977 1990s 1999 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 . and fruits. the First Empire restaurant guide author. and favors lean meats. Avian flu detected in chickens in Pas-de-Calais. globalization.xviii 1949 Timeline Bread rationing is lifted. and the presence of immigrant cultures.

Chauvet. Around 8000 B. The innovations of agriculture and pottery that define the Neolithic period came west from the Fertile Crescent to Europe in about 6000 B. and leaves. in addition to hunting. Neolithic populations managed animals.000 to 15. Font-de-Gaume.1 Historical Overview ORIGINS The earliest peoples in what is now France likely garnered the largest portion of their food from plants. Cosquer. .000 B. nuts.C.000 years ago.E. During the New Stone Age. Stone Age peoples domesticated dogs as hunting companions.C.C. mammoths—that probably had spiritual significance. nomadic forerunners of modern humans ranged north from Africa into western Europe. In cooler northern regions. sheep. they stored extra grain in pits dug into the ground and in pots. chickpeas. These hunter-gatherers foraged in field and forest for berries. Peas.) paintings on cave walls from about 35. people made a gradual transition from foraging for food to farming. sometimes grazing the herds seasonally in different locations. People now cultivated emmer and einkorn (old types of wheat) and naked barley. then as tended crops. they hunted horses and aurochs.E.C.E. They herded cattle. During winter. rhinoceros. and goats were also kept and may have been moved according to the same practice of transhumance. and lentils came under cultivation.E. rye and oats flourished. roots. at Lascaux. Pigs. first as wild grasses. Paleolithic or Old Stone Age (earliest times to 6000 B. When climate change caused the extinction of big game. About 500. and Niaux show animal food sources and other creatures—lions.

The invention of pottery changed cooking and storage in the New Stone Age. and heating mixtures by dropping in hot rocks.C.2 Food Culture in France Boar. pork). bringing their eating customs and essential foods. The additions strengthened the clay so that the pots could be placed directly on a fire. For the common person. The end of the Neolithic period saw the incorporation of metals into the arsenal of tools.C. including cooking implements. bronze (about 1800–700 B. Cheese featured frequently in meals. a few Phocaeans (Greeks from Asia Minor) looking for new territory established colonies that they called Massilia (Marseille) and Agde. hare. the Greeks had developed the civilization that underpins much of Western culture. but it was not considered everyday fare. wine. and then iron (from about 700 B. Fish.E. smoking. eels. beaver. GREEKS ON THE CÔTE D’AZUR In about 600 B. meat was carefully distributed or else sold off in portions equal in size. flint.E. lamb. this was the earliest introduction of the Mediterranean diet based on bread. People made wide-mouthed vessels using bits of bone. and the large domesticates were killed ceremonially. along with the all-purpose salty flavoring sauce garos (Roman garum or liquamen) made of fermented fish. and quantities of snails added to the list of animal protein eaten in the Neolithic period. hedgehog. When the Phocaeans arrived in the new colonies with their vines and fruit.) mark shifts toward technology that maintained more populous civilizations. The ideal diet of classical antiquity was based on three cultivated foods: wheat. Wealthy Greeks loved meat (beef. and oil.). shell. shared banquet in a private home drank wine mixed with water only after eating. drying. This added another technique to spit-roasting. or grog (pulverized burnt clay) as a tempering medium. sand. The grains were eaten as porridge or baked into bread or unleavened biscuit if ovens were available. with little concern for cut or texture. Populations living on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and on rivers harvested shellfish and fish. elite diners participating in a symposion or convivial. After the required sacrifices had been made to appease the gods. and shellfish were eaten. and valued conversation as an integral part of the meal. the building blocks for most meals were barley or wheat and pulses.E. During the Age of Metals. grapes. and olives. Pulses in the everyday diet . The use of copper. In the colonial centers of Greek civilization.C. including literary and philosophical traditions and both urban and pastoral ways of life.

so did their institutions. including a benevolent druid. The Greeks called these peoples Galatai or Keltoi. It is certainly true that . cups. the Romans would name them Gauls.200 to 2. and capers. The prehistoric Celts (their language was oral) have a special place in the collective imagination as the ancestors of the modern French. and ale. horses. fruits. gourds.Historical Overview 3 included lentils. Celts in northern Europe mined iron and lead. Celts ate meat primarily from domesticated oxen or cattle and pigs. plums. They cultivated cabbages. spits. Many of the Celtic deities such as the matrons or mother-goddesses were associated with fertility and with flowers. apples. and dogs were less common. Sheep. There is a popular idea that Celts feasted constantly on roast wild boar. The city of Paris derives its name from the Celtic Parisii tribe that settled in the Île-de-France. It appears that they domesticated the hare and species of ducks and geese. harrows. goats. chickpeas. The land was left as open fields that members of the tribe worked in common. and pomegranates were the bestknown fruits. milk. CELTIC ANCESTORS Tribes of Indo-Europeans that originated in Hallstadt (present-day Austria) and swept west by around 700 B. carrots. Children know this story from the famous cartoons that Goscinny and Uderzo published beginning in the early 1960s about the rotund character Astérix the Gaul and friends. giving the name Celts. and grains. and reapers. which were made into salads and cooked dishes.C. and fava or broad beans. governance was decentralized within tribes headed by a warrior elite and the families that composed each tribe. they manufactured innovative iron ploughs. To support farming. and developed advanced metalworking techniques such as soldering and the use of rivets. including places for eating out such as kapêleia or taverns that served wine and inexpensive bar food. pears. and early forms of cauliflower and lettuce. They did not construct a unified empire or kingdom. and serving platters.000 square kilometers (about 450 to 750 square miles).E. Tribes occupied swathes of land that measured about 1. as well as grains. At their most populous. Rather. the Celts in Gaul probably numbered between 6 and 9 million. Greeks brought with them knowledge of the all-important vegetables onion. including flagons. bowls. garlic. As the cities grew. Celtic civilization was based on farming and animal husbandry. developed a diet based on meat. cauldrons. They wrought a range of cooking and eating utensils. grills. quinces. gold and silver. Figs and grapes.

Where the Greeks and Romans kept wine in amphorae (clay jars). and brewed ale (beer without hops) from grain.C. The familiarity bred by commerce between the different populations also prepared the way for Rome’s annexation of Celtic lands to the Empire in 51 B. Since the inception of the republic in the fifth century B. the tribes relied on their fields and barnyards. Exposed to wooden barrels. productive Celtic territories were a temptation not to be resisted by the Romans. and slaves with neighboring tribes and with other populations. Ties between the Celtic and the Mediterranean civilizations enlarged the diets. amber and salt.” nearest Rome) populations sacked Rome in 387 (or 390) B. cheese. Celts used wooden barrels for more convenient storage and transport.4 Food Culture in France wild boar roamed the forests. remarked in his Deipnosophistae (Professors at Dinner. In 52 B. and tools. Butchers specialized in making hams and sausages and were greatly admired for their facility with curing pork. wine took on the pitchy or resinous flavor of the jar seal.C. olive oil. 200–230) that the Celts were heavy drinkers who tossed back their wine undiluted with water. drank milk from their herds. provoked ravenous Rome.. ca. meat products. Stored in amphorae. and smoking. but they could not get enough of the heady southern wines that they traded up from Massilia and Rome. ROMAN GAUL The fertile. the Greek writer from Naucratis (Egypt) who moved to Rome at the end of the first century.C. They made cheeses. as they periodically migrated in search of land. subsuming far-off Dacia (Romania). Athenaeus. wine drunk by the Celts must have developed some flavors like those prized by today’s oenophiles. and cool-weather grains associated with the Celts typified the diet in what later became northern France. and vegetables. Rome ballooned.E. hides from their animals. and made incursions elsewhere.E.E. for their part.. Celts traded metal jewelry. he won a decisive victory against the Gallic . the first imperial dynasty was established in 27 B. Bellicose Cisalpine (from “this side of the Alps. wine. and the constantly campaigning legions of the vast military machine required a solid diet of wheat bread.E. butter). Celts. The legions butted heads with the tribes for two centuries before the general Julius Caesar was sent to quell them. meat.C. and Celts hunted them in self-defense. They cultivated some grapes in the north. but hunting was restricted to elites.E. North Africa. Syria. They mined salt and developed techniques for preserving meat and fish through salting. and Arabia as provinces. For food. ingots. fat from meat and milk (lard.C. Urban Romans were consumers in need of provisions. Meats. coins. drying.

and desserts. Among the educated. Roman trade provided links even to India and China. and so a few people had knowledge of quite exotic foods. and the oppida or hill-forts for civitates or administrative structures. and spelt were available in Gaul. The food at a convivium or dinner party could be elaborate. Emmer. dry. dining habits at their most luxurious drew on Greek manners. trade enlarged the food choice provided by the local produce. Beyond the Rhine lay Germania and to the south Provincia (later Narbonnensis) and Cisalpina. and Arles are still used today for concerts. Greek ways were considered the most elegant and civilized. The mensae primae (main course or courses) offered meats and poultry and were accompanied by wine mixed with water. plays. Nîmes. wet) appropriate for one’s personal balance of the four bodily humors (blood. Wealthy citizens designed their houses to follow the Roman style. they centralized political conduits. with anywhere from two to seven courses. cold. A cena (fancy dinner) finished with mensae secundae or fruits. The gustatio or promulsis (first course) featured vegetables.Historical Overview 5 leader Vercingétorix. which were supposed to be balanced through diet. black bile. who worked in the Roman context during the second century. gastronomic specialties from across the Empire. Propped up on their left elbows. The Romans built roads for their military but also to the benefit of traders. and the remains of public baths also persist. and they sought vintages from the best locations across the . Using the old tribal divisions of land as a basis for latifundia or large farms with attached estates. aqueducts (such as the Pont-du-Gard and those built to supply Vienne). Continuing Hippocratic tradition. the Greek physician Galen. and eggs. the “three Gauls” or large divisions of Celtic territories had become provinces. soft and hard wheats. For Gallo-Romans. Rivers demarcated Gallia Belgica from Celtica (later Gallia Lugdunensis) and Aquitania. operas. Elegant diners reclined rather than sat. Eating customs evolved from the Roman adaptations of Greek precedents. with the usual military outposts throughout. and bull-fighting. Amphitheatres at Orange. The Romans did much to unify and urbanize Celtic lands. with a courtyard and triclinium or dining room. yellow bile. At least for the wealthiest eaters. fish. City walls. A year later. Sophisticated wine drinkers tracked yearly variations in quality. They undertook huge public projects in durable stone for the cities. and the agricultural riches of Gaul itself. phlegm) as the way to maintain good health. nuts. recommended choosing foods with qualities (hot. The colony at Massilia was a destination for Romans as for Romanized Celts—Gallo-Romans—who sought an education and cosmopolitan finish. attitudes toward diet and health were shaped by the prevailing theory of the humors. they politely touched food only with the right hand.

parsley. bringing a new wave of northern influence on diet. and sun. By about the fifth century. Latin penetrated even to rural areas. and pine nuts (pine kernels) were eaten. Germanic tribes crossed west over the Rhine River to settle in Gaul. sea urchin. Other herbs included rosemary. The list of fruits and nuts grew ever longer as produce was imported from afar. the Romans encouraged British Celts to migrate back to the Continent to defend depopulated Brittany. pennyroyal. asparagus. Germanic Visigoths crossed out of Italy and were settled in Gallic Aquitaine. and pheasant gave eggs and provided roasts. cumin. The tribal leader Odoacer the Goth deposed the last Roman emperor in the . bay. Visigoths. Among the herbs and spices. crushing taxes. Federations and alliances already existed among Germans. Sorb apples (related to serviceberries). and Burgundians. cucumbers. lettuces. Guinea fowl (originally from Numidia). sour cherries. wrasse. celery seed. During the fifth century. goats. decadent emperors. myrtle. Celts. During the last imperial centuries. peaches (from Persia). contributing to urban decline. thyme. there were leeks. Domestic sheep. gourds. pears. Gallic elites left the cities. and famine added to the general unrest and misery. turnips. and scallops. lovage nearly always combined with black or long pepper. preparing the way for the development of French. apples. The Mediterranean gave fish and shellfish including mackerel. hens. the few remaining Breton speakers trace their culture back to the Celts.or smoke-dried raisins were basics. rue. plague. oysters from present-day Brittany and Normandy were esteemed a delicacy. Spices were valued as flavorings in elite cooking. Today. overextended Roman Empire crumbled during the fourth century. dates. and coriander.6 Food Culture in France provinces. saffron. The Roman army that defeated Attila the Hun in 451 near Troyes was anchored by tribal Germans—Franks. mustard. octopus. tuna. In the late third and fourth centuries. juniper berries (native to Gaul). Figs. Garum or fish sauce—made off the Atlantic coast from fermented mackerel and tuna—and allec or fish pickle were common. arbutus fruits. the Celtic heritage echoes primarily in words that pertain to agriculture and in place names. FRANKS FROM RHINELAND As the exhausted. caraway. and beets. For vegetables. and wild boar and deer caught on the hunt were prized. partridges. some were used in perfumes. bass. grapes. and cows gave milk for cheese as well as meat. chestnuts. hazelnuts. and Gallo-Romans. walnuts. In the modern language. pistachios. Snails were popular. traded from India in exchange for gold. mallow. mint. rocket.

some Germanic pagan rites required the conspicuous display of ale casks in the middle of dwellings. which they thought gave them strength to wage war. grew wheat and barley. Romanized Gauls considered themselves elegant and civilized. They took pride in Gallic particularities and in the classical heritage. gathered berries and nuts from the forests. they farmed and herded in the intervening years. They steadfastly preferred their own butter and lard over southern olive oil. as well as in their own discernment. Both Romans and Christians complained about the reek of rancid butter that was said to announce a German. and the men also used butter to condition their characteristic long hair and flowing beards. They fished.Historical Overview 7 Shellfish merchant bringing coastal oysters and mussels to the Saint Antoine market in Lyon. using barley or oats to thicken the mixture. They hunted game and ate domesticated meat. West in 476. including poultry. although lower in yield and in gluten than wheat. They roasted meat and made stews. was the preferred grain. This is clear . Franks made hard cider from apples and grew rye. the favored beverage. in contrast to the Germans. Hardy spelt. and made ale. like the Celts. Although the Franks made periodic migrations. But it was the powerful Franks who exerted the most lasting influence within future French territory. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil.

they found humane treatment at the hands of the barbarians. though formidable. Of these. it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The rejection of meats. had no special liking for the Germans. As part of the Catholic rite of communion. Ceremonial cups of wine were drunk throughout. Meats and beer are recommended. Bread and wine. the physician and ambassador Anthimus balanced the classical heritage with the Germanic present. like the recommendations for sexual abstinence. Diners reclined. mystery religions involving the worship of a dying god (such as Isis or Mithras) who was then reborn became popular. 534).2 GALLO-CHRISTIANS In Gaul Christian food practices that evolved from Judaic and Mediterranean traditions had the distinguishing cast of asceticism. Christian ritual was overlaid on pagan celebrations of grain and the harvest. In a time of unrest. By the end of the fourth century under Theodosius. The meatless diet avoided sacrificial carnage. acquired a powerful symbolic association to sacrifice in Christianity. His treatise De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods). instead of meat. while noble Rome had turned uncivilized.8 Food Culture in France in the fourth-century writings of Decimus Agnus Ausonius. Christianity had the greatest staying power. local river salmon and trout are indicated. Early Eucharistic (thanksgiving) meals borrowed from Jewish Passover seders and Greco-Roman banquets. Yet Anthimus makes concessions to the intended reader and the available food supply. draws on the cookbook author Apicius for recipes and on Galen for medical advice. The practice of self-denial and also self-definition through the refusal of habits perceived as typical characterized the early Christian approach to food. fighters. In the first and second centuries. The disparaging comments should be taken with a grain of salt.1 A century later. A variety of foods were eaten in courses. Christianity penetrated first in the southern parts of Gaul where the Germanic traditions held less sway. Yet he observed that educated and well-born individuals around him were casting their lot with the Goths and Franks. is an example of asceticism as well as a populist touch and concession to necessity. in particular of the lamb that Jews offered up in temples. and he wrote an encomium to the wines and oysters of his native Bordeaux. . whose writings date to about 440. Romans characterized Germans as uncouth rustics and fickle. Bread was preferred over meat. Roman fish sauce is categorically forbidden. addressed to the Frankish king Theuderic (d. His pastoral poem Mosella catalogues the edible fish in the tributary of the Rhine named in the title (the Moselle). The moralist Salvian of Marseille.

and foreign nuts. Other days were added in rhythm with the natural seasons and older pagan holidays. The communicant directly incorporated his god. cinnamon. indulgence featured in monastic feasting. saintly figures miraculously abstained from food for long periods. and to become him. If asceticism and fasting characterized early Christianity. but the ability to host a feast also signaled power. Outside of church ceremony. fruits or vegetables in season. By miraculous transubstantiation. Monks and nuns earned a reputation as food experts. Starting in the fourth century. father of monasticism in the West.” on pain of excommunication. fasting was required for the period before Easter (Lent). ca. the Council of Agde that met in 506 forbade Christians from sharing a meal with “Jews and heretics. buying products imported through the Mediterranean ports. Clerics could not bear arms. wine in limited quantity. In defiance of Jewish principles of fellowship. meals were to be taken twice daily in summer and once in winter. servings from two cooked dishes. In later centuries the stock figure of the gluttonous monk became a target for satirists. monasteries participated in trade networks. when the power of the Catholic Church in France began to decline. later the thin unleavened wafer known as the host.Historical Overview 9 a piece of bread. mandated hospitality to guests and to any pilgrim as a basic tenet of monastic life. In the early sixth century. The principles of inclusion and generosity were not always put into practice. was ingested along with a sip of wine. early Christian tolerance. the Rule of Benedict of Nursia (d. institutional pronouncements set ideals for GalloChristian food practice. avoiding actual bloodshed while fostering a penchant for the mystical. More commonly. the rite of communion recast sacrifice on a supernatural level. they could entertain elite visitors. Gallic bishops financed banquets to alleviate the hunger of the poor. Despite the Christian principle of disdaining commerce. the bread and wine ostensibly turned into the body and blood of Christ. Benedict prescribed an acceptable diet for a monk as bread. Having productive kitchen gardens and well-stocked larders. but they gave feasts to build up their reputations. To be sure. and Greek and Gallo-Roman conviviality. to consume him. As the number of monasteries and nunneries increased and bishops consolidated power. He remained so through the early eighteenth century. Eucharistic counterpart. To eat a meal was to commune with fellow Christians and with the Christian god. Through symbolism. Some won privileges for their monasteries to import luxury foods such as pepper. The virtuous fasted on Fridays. eating bread at daily meals recalled its blessed. 540). . In extreme cases. Bread and wine evoked the body and blood of Christ. Christians fasted for short periods while charitably giving alms and donating food.

Carolingian documents describing the abbey at St. and encouraged international trade. The Frankish liturgy included the ceremonial use of chrism (balsam or balm mixed with oil). The social hierarchy based on landholding. who then exacted tributes from the peasants working their terrain. 768–814). Maixent. tied to the seasons and the harvest cycle. and quite ill managed. For the Christian. like the Saxons and other peoples conquered in war. no system of direct taxation was used. and the diet included imports such as lemons and dates. Frankish Paris. Beer and wine were . linked merchants to monasteries and the king. as in ancient times and up through the Revolution of 1789. the most influential of whom was Charlemagne (r. The Christian was burdened with original sin. made annual gifts to the emperor. Nobles. How can the duties of the host to be generous reconcile with the obligation of the penitent to live sparingly? CAROLINGIAN RENEWAL After the Roman period. oats and rye became important. In the Carolingian era. personal. wealth. the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish tribal leaders converted to Christianity and shifted the capital from Romanized Lyon to northern. Monastic fairs at Paris. The acquisition of land cemented power for titled individuals such as counts and dukes. set himself up as protector of the Church and of the faithful. Cormery. and St. Charlemagne made donations to the Church. Spices were available. At length. Gall (in present-day Switzerland) indicate a richly provisioned establishment. and was crowned Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800 by Pope Leo III in Rome. Unlike in the Roman era. They also reveal contradictions inherent to the Gallo-Christian cult of late antiquity. Tournus. Near the Rhine valley. Benoît de Cessieu brought in revenue. giving rise to the new dynasty of Carolingians. and millet were the most common. for instance. Exotic products show the reach of the trade networks. the flesh was impure. Pulses complemented the grain. and rank would underpin the feudal castes of the next centuries. Langres. Flavigny. Barley. Greeks and Romans explained the need for moderation at table through principles of health.10 Food Culture in France Feasting and fasting traditions—extreme eating—reflect the natural alternation of cycles of plenty and shortage. St. The Frankish kingships were military. most people relied on grains for food. a powerful palace mayor (administrator) to the king overthrew his employer. Sophisticated systems of exchange also flourished in the marketplace. The problem was how to define moderation according to Christian principles. wheat. Charlemagne waged war to enlarge his dominions across Europe.

turnips. beets. 987–1322) expanded their Parisian stronghold to include the counties of Flanders and Boulogne. taken during the ninth century. such as cucumbers. A warrior class of chevaliers or knights who were supposed to aid the lords and monarch fought their way into that class to obtain their own hereditary titles and landowning rights. fourth century). peasants would work land and trades in exchange for protection given by the landowner. cervoise (ale). The capitularies listed plants that Charlemagne wanted to be cultivated throughout the empire. including the oldest surviving copies of Apicius’s cookbook De re coquinaria (On Cookery. fish. lettuce.3 Attempting to counter hunger. His Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii. In the feudal era. bakers. butchers. so children also drank diluted alcohols. Saint Sadalberga (ca. After the Serment de Strasbourg or Strasbourg Oath of 842.4 He exhorted cooks. West Francia covered much of the territory of contemporary France. mustard.Historical Overview 11 the beverages of choice. Famine was common. The Capetian kings (r. miraculously filled a vat with beer just in time for the visit of the abbot who assisted her to found a monastery. artichokes. Charlemagne fixed prices for bread. and makers of garum. Carolingian territories were divided into three parts. communion wine. fava beans. Hoarding and speculation on grain and wine aggravated shortages. cheese. Encouraging agriculture and food production was part of the effort to renew the achievements of imperial Rome within the contemporary Christian empire.5 The narrative left by his biographer Einhard shows the effort to negotiate customs from Frankish warrior feasts (involving meat from hunted game and plenty of alcohol) with both classical moderation and Christian asceticism. Difficult conditions fostered tales about the supernatural provision of food and drink. chickpeas. In the ninth and tenth centuries. cabbages. Normans or Norsemen (“northern” or Scandinavian . or decrees regarding the imperial domains. Dynastic competitions were keen in the Middle Ages. Frankish tastes color provisionary miracles of the Merovingian and Carolingian eras. 605–670). spontaneous generation was said to have produced loaves. or holy oil. rocket. It is thanks to Carolingian monastic scribes that many ancient texts are known today. born near Langres. The plants and foods listed in the capitularies were familiar from antiquity. Water was not dependably safe. and mustard to work carefully in a clean environment. but this measure did not hold market rates steady. ca. According to the vita or life written in the ninth century. and various herbs. millers. Charlemagne himself was said to have been a careful eater and a moderate drinker. sought to remedy shortages by improving agriculture. radishes. In earlier centuries. hydromel (fermented honey drink).

invaded Britain. however. Denis forsook the customary phrase “king of the Franks” for the new description “king of France. The contemporary language of the written version (ca. and the more peaceable nobles. wine became the symbol of Christian France. people imagined “France” as a place and an idea. priests. New wheeled plows were more versatile and efficient. refers to the homeland as la douce France (sweet France). 1100).12 Food Culture in France warriors and sailors) descended in boats to plunder and scout for land. monks grew grapes and produced wine for medicinal use and to offer to travelers and pilgrims whom the laws of hospitality obliged them to host. peasants reclaimed land through cutting forests and draining marshes. the link between Christian succor and wine is recalled by events such as the wine auction held every November at the Hôtel-Dieu or historic hospice in the town of Beaune in Burgundy. The auction is now commercial. During the Middle Ages. With the knights conveniently gone on crusade. the counts of Provence defended their territory. but it was originally conceived to benefit the charity hospital. . During the era of the crusades. Improved food production supported a larger population. From the start to the end of the Capetian dynasty.” The Old French epic Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) looks back in time to recount a battle against Moors in Spain that was fought during the era of Charlemagne. improved use of the soil. In the south. so productive at home.” Armed knights were apt to skirmish over small slights. Grain farming increased to newly opened fields in the north and east. Three-crop rotations. GRAIN AND SWORDS The agricultural and population expansion that lasted about 300 years until the mid-thirteenth century owed much to the absence of the military class. the population tripled to about 20 million. with winter and spring plantings next to a fallow field that was sometimes grazed (and thus manured). Writing about the Capetians. Heavy workhorses bred from Carolingian cavalry animals—the knights’ battle chargers— pulled plows faster than the old-fashioned teams of oxen. From its association with pagan Rome and the god Bacchus. posing a constant threat to peasants. Today. authorized by Pope Eugenius IV in 1441 and staffed by nuns. They settled in the northwest (today’s Normandy). Christian warriors left in droves to crusade against the Muslim “infidel. then merged with Aquitaine and Britain to form the powerful Anglo-Norman or Angevin empire. After Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 from Clermont-Ferrand to take Jerusalem from the Turks. the abbot Suger of St.

Historical Overview 13 There was literally little spice in the gustatory life of the peasant. Cheese was a staple in the Auvergne. and destitute received assistance in the form of meals of soup . In Brittany blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat) mixed with water or milk was used to make gruel. people ate chestnuts. was not uncommon among peasants. the society was now in bad shape. which killed 8 million people. harsh winters regularly led to inadequate grain harvests. 1150 to 1450). The ill. Cod fishing in North Atlantic waters provided a new. when meat was forbidden. the basic foodstuffs were interminable bowls of gruel and bread made from wheat or maslin (wheat mixed with rye and barley). Eating meat. Charitable institutions and paying establishments alike existed to provide venues for meals. the market for brandies and fortified wines quickly expanded. In rural areas and among the poor everywhere. In the South and on Corsica. diet and living conditions did improve until about the mid-sixteenth century. Meat-eating declined among the peasants. and Nantes. poaching was punishable by execution. During the Angevin period (ca. Stockfisch or salted dried cod. Until 1537. especially pork. As a result of the ravages of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453) fought against England and the Black Death or bubonic plague (1348–1349). Once Franç ois I granted the privilege of manufacture to vinegar makers. who used the resulting brandy as a medicine. For most. Around 1550. cheap staple that could be eaten during the lean days of Lent. and chickpeas supplemented the grains and gave more protein. beans. food shortages. cervoise or beer in the northeast. Wine was grown as far north as the Paris basin—there were vineyards at Montmartre and Belleville. Peasants drank hard apple cider in the northwest. dark bread was made of wheat supplemented with other grains. Peas. and hunger. During the little ice age that lasted through the next three centuries. elderly. Le Havre. although hunting game in forests remained restricted to the aristocracy. the best wines from Gascony and Bordeaux were exported to British cellars. Voluntary distribution of food was often associated with collective settings such as hospices and hospitals. high prices. Inexpensive piquette (wine made from the second pressing of the fruit) was available in much of the country. White wheat bread was rare. Staples varied by region and according to local taste. although primarily to feed horses. as well as fresh fish. For survivors of the plague and wars. made their way across the country from ships that docked at the western ports of Dieppe. Nutritious oats were widely grown. generally found in wealthy homes. The feudal era had been relatively prosperous. sometimes grinding the nuts into a flour. Honfleur. the climate changed. the distillation of wine was the province of apothecaries.

The spectacular service prevented diners from having to bring knives and slice their own portions from the roast. hosting them for up to three days. Nobles feasted in the great halls of their castles. interested in ostentation as well as the distribution of largesse. One of the earliest recipe manuscripts. For important occasions such as weddings. Recipes and indications for service followed the international style of the late medieval and early Renaissance courts throughout western Europe. elites rented out a hôtel and the services of a cook and his helpers. one also drank wine or beer at a cabaret (Picardy). The nobility were conspicuous consumers. estaminet (northern France and the Burgundian territory that is today Belgium). and close to marketplaces that drew a crowd. Usually the taverns and other watering holes made some sort of food available. and the table was set with a nef or ship-shaped container to hold the salt. The hostels. Convents. Inns and the tavernes that served wine set up strategically near city gates. monasteries. at busy intersections in town. minimally bread and cheese or a piece of cold meat pie. sauciers attended to the garnishes.14 Food Culture in France and bread. Tirel was known as Taillevent. journeymen. According to region and century. and much later the pensions (boarding houses) typical in the nineteenth century served meals usually at fixed hours and almost invariably at a communal table. Carvers neatly dismembered whole roasted animals carried in on immense platters. The duties of lords to distribute food and wine stemmed from Christian notions of hospitality and also the old feudal obligations to vassals or dependents. and generous lords allocated food and wine to pilgrims. for a catered meal. as in earlier times. Food was placed on sliced bread trenchers. where the local regulars often gave travelers and newcomers a hard time. drew on the author’s experience as maistre queux du roy de France or master cook to the king of France. inns. or a débit de vin (“wine dispensary:” sixteenth century and later). Paying hôtels or hôtelleries (hostels. Each course of a meal had several dishes. prisoners of war. judges. Myriad attendants performed separate offices. His nickname refers to wind cutting through sails and presumably evokes his swiftness and efficacy in . MANUSCRIPT TO COOKBOOK The earliest French-language works on cooking reflect practice in distinguished settings. Le Viandier (The Provisioner) attributed to Guillaume de Tirel (1315–1395). and itinerant merchants. which might rest on metal underplates. Honored guests sat above the salt close to the head of the table. hostelries) maintained by municipal authorities sheltered travelers. pantners looked after the bread.

is still current for many manuals. fish (including whale. and the irreplaceable black pepper. In 1450. Late medieval recipes hold surprises for the modern French palate. in one version of the manuscript) and shellfish. His cookbook has a coherent organization that reflects the relationship of the recipes to the part they play in a grand meal. Expensive foreign spices were status symbols. cinnamon. food for the sick. This logic.”6 . and printing came to France shortly thereafter (1470). roasts and roast fowl. imported from the Middle East and Sicily. and how much money she should spend for each item. including supervising the kitchen. and cold and hot sauces. sweet flavors combined with salty tastes in the same dish. the author wrote for his own ménage. He gives menus for feast and fast days. A typical list includes cloves. ca. if also wealthy. fancy entremets (meat or grain dishes served between the first and second courses). long pepper. Other intriguing features of medieval recipes include elaborate substitutions and gastronomic trickery. 1393). Taillevent’s résumé was superb: he cooked for the Valois king Philip VI and for Charles V and served as head of provisions for Charles VI. and even tells his wife where she should go shopping for ingredients and utensils in Paris. as in the recipe for “imitating a bear [or stag] steak with a piece of beef. ginger. After all. Le Mesnagier de Paris (The Parisian Household Guide. Chapters on the obligations of a virtuous wife. The popular Viandier enjoyed numerous print editions through the seventeenth century. milieu. They also indicate the circumstances of the eaters. evokes a different. Le Mesnagier is thoroughly didactic. as cane sugar. Johann Gutenberg pioneered use of the printing press with movable type in Mainz. the use of the dish for further cooking or service. and economics accompany those on meals. meat broths and stews.Historical Overview 15 the kitchen. who had to learn to run the ménage (household). not for service in a château (castle). The author describes how to dress game taken on the hunt and indicates when the various garden vegetables should be planted seasonally. Recipes are organized according to the type of main ingredient. and the cooking method: boiled meats. although there is some adjustment in the direction of modesty. was used as a spice. The author was a well-heeled bourgeois who wrote the instructional booklet for his teenage bride. Many of his recipes borrow directly from Taillevent’s Viandier. in which the cookbook mirrors the meal in its organization and progress through time. Another early manuscript. grains of paradise (Malagueta pepper). The spice mixtures reflect the Roman heritage. moral theology. Notably. meatless stews and soups (for fast days). Many recipes demand a heavy-handed application of spices. To serve or consume them was to demonstrate wealth and prestige.

In urban settings. Later in the same century. Meat sellers. Risks accompanied eating out. and fowl. Concerned municipal authorities did pass ordinances to regulate sales. Types of street food multiplied over the centuries as sellers increased in number. The collectivities regulated entry into each trade and defended practitioners’ interests. To stretch profits. the poet Guillaume de Villeneuve’s Crieries de Paris (Parisian Vendors’ Calls) adds that pears. and self-sufficiency declined. cooked and cured pork from a chaircuitier saulcissier. People purchased these street foods at the exterior counter of a boutique. shoemakers. of geese. The tantalizing list of food specialists for Paris in Étienne Boileau’s Livre des métiers (Book of Trades) of 1268 mentions sellers of bread. giving a taste of independence to master workers if not their apprentices. Beginning in the twelfth century. industry and trade prospered. But the customer had to be on the alert. and of tripe and offal. An unscrupulous wine merchant might push ignoble plonk as a good vintage from one of the better wine towns. Stationed at the entry to churches on feast days. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries cities grew rapidly. specialists such as bakers. by extension the symbolic offering of bread and wine in the Catholic liturgy). raising the price accordingly. and bowls of gruel were available. of leftovers from the grand houses. The gaufrier specialized in waffles. defined by corporate rules and royal statutes revised periodically until the attempt was made to suppress the trade guilds in 1776. smiths. each vendor had to stick to his specialty.16 Food Culture in France MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE STREET FOOD Taking food and meals outside of the home had a strong association to the urban centers. they were definitively dissolved in 1791. including in the street. milk. pigeons. where walking down the street revealed a wealth of edibles. vinegared herring. later called corporations). for instance. butchers. and bureaucracy displaced tribal and familial relationships. and town criers joined with colleagues to form guilds (communautés de métier. but one had to purchase one’s repast piecemeal. In principle. . onions à longue haleine (having a lasting effect on the breath). a similar unleavened egg and butter cake called a fouace was the province of the fouacier. The oublie (a waffle decorated with religious symbols) recalled the oblation (sacrifice. of meat or fish pasties and cheese and egg pies. had to responsibly discard or burn any meat older than two or three days and meat that smelled off. or from a merchant stationed at an échoppe (booth or shop). tavern keepers were known to sophistiquer (adulterate) their wine. from an ambulatory vendor with his cart. Roasted meats came from a rôtisseur. the oubloyer’s portable oven was sometimes called a fournaise à pardon (“absolution furnace”).

Champlain returned with the topinambour or Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke). Samuel de Champlain finally founded a successful colony at Québec in 1608. turkey (in French dinde abbreviates coq d’Inde or “Indian chicken”). this would become the word for potato). 1654) laid out instructions for gardening and then cooking from one’s own harvest. and the . Portugal had cornered the market on black pepper. which is appreciated today. who also encountered pineapple. including the Jerusalem artichoke and wild rice. nor Hernando Cortès. Muscovy duck. Christopher Columbus first set out in 1492 to find a fast water route to “the Indies” (that is. Bumping instead into the Americas. Spanish soldiers found “floury roots” in a mountain village in Peru7. Commissioned by the Spanish monarchs. corn (maize). guava. By this time. In 1537. seedy Old World fraises des bois or wild woodland strawberries). cranberries. The knobby tuber has a firm texture and a sweet taste reminiscent of artichokes. made it to the Far East. Another writer referred to it as a poire de terre (“earth pear”). Belated French voyages to the New World brought further culinary discoveries. there was initially some confusion as to how to name it. chocolate. private funds sponsored the earliest trading and colonizing voyages. Neither Columbus. Asia) to make it cheaper to import pepper and other spices. and strawberries. and Spain wanted its own supply of this expensive commodity. vanilla. and new varieties of beans. who reached Mexico in 1519. Rather. These New World foods came to France as a result of European voyages made beginning in the late fifteenth century. Perhaps the name topinambour stuck for the Jerusalem artichoke because it so intriguingly evokes exotic origins. As with many new foods. The French state came late to ambitious maritime exploration. they returned with marvelous foods: tomatoes. blueberries. potatoes arrived in Europe in the 1570s. Topinamboux is the French name of a native Brazilian tribe (the Tupi).Historical Overview 17 NEW WORLD FOODS Cornerstones of modern cooking such as potatoes and tomatoes are relatively recent additions to the French pantry. From Canada. the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci. papaya. as well as the famous corsaires or pirates who raided Spanish and Portuguese ships. and pumpkin returned with European voyagers. 1651) and Les Delices de la campagne (The Delights of the Countryside. Nicolas de Bonnefons was the valet to Louis XIV whose books Le Jardinier françois (The French Gardener. bell peppers. The voyagers to North America also found Virginia strawberries (larger than the tiny. Bonnefons called the Jerusalem artichoke a pomme de terre (“earth apple”. and Henri IV began sending Jesuit missionaries to North America shortly thereafter.


Food Culture in France

aquatic grass known as wild rice, which the Ojibwa taught the French to harvest from canoes and to cure. Many of the New World foods were incorporated only gradually into the diet. Hot chili peppers in the Capsicum family never took hold at all; spicy flavors are still disliked today. Other foods came through Spain and went to Italy before ending up in France, where cultural obstacles prevented their quick adoption. Today, it is difficult to imagine cooking without tomatoes; however, it took two centuries before the tomato was incorporated into the diet. A member of the deadly nightshade family, it was thought poisonous. The potato, from the same family of Solonacae, was also viewed with suspicion. Of course, the voyagers attested to its edibility. A few others quickly recognized that the potato would be useful against grain shortages, and fields were planted in Alsace and Lorraine, in the Auvergne, and in the Lyon area. Because of the importance of bread and the periodic famines resulting from lack of grain, potato fanciers experimented with using potato flour or mashed potatoes to replace wheat in leavened loaves; however, the potato had a bad reputation. It was accused of causing leprosy and was thought of as food fit only for the poor. By the eighteenth century, the old excuse was taken up that spuds were flatulent. Finally, potatoes were distributed to members of an agricultural society, and the naturalist Auguste Parmentier (1737–1813), with the support of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, promoted them tirelessly. Parmentier’s great coup was to plant potatoes in a field belonging to Louis XVI that was heavily guarded during the day. When the guards retired for the evening, temptation lured the local population in to poach whatever was so very valuable in the king’s fields. By the nineteenth century, people had begun to rely on potatoes as a staple. Turkey was accepted relatively quickly. By the eighteenth century, it often replaced goose as a festive roast. Today, turkey is popular for the winter holidays, and, as a pale-fleshed meat, it often replaces veal. In the seventeenth century, southern French peasants began to grow corn to eat as millasse (porridge like Italian polenta) or as corncakes or pancakes, selling the more profitable wheat that they grew. Elsewhere corn was primarily grown as animal fodder and to enrich soil depleted from other crops. It is hardly eaten today; most people still think of corn as food for animals.

Late seventeenth-century cookbooks emphasized tastes and codified procedures that persist today. In the 1660s, the satirist Nicolas Boileau poked fun at vulgar types who scour far-off Goa for pepper and ginger and whose idea of refinement consists of too much pepper mixed up in the sauce.8

Historical Overview


Spices, which had become relatively inexpensive, were out of style in aristocratic contexts. Instead of disguising flavors of the principal ingredients with baroque flourishes, some clarity and sense of proportion were now sought. Even humble vegetables were required to taste a bit more of themselves. Cooks working for elite diners turned to the kitchen garden for the flavoring palette. Cookbooks from this period, such as François Pierre de La Varenne’s Le Cuisinier françois (The French Cook, 1651), Pierre de Lune’s Le Cuisinier (The Cook, 1656), and L.S.R.’s Art de bien traiter (Art of Entertaining Well, 1674), show that cooks did use spices such as cloves. They certainly retained salt and pepper, although, often enough, only un peu (a little bit) in the case of pepper. A remarkable feature of these cookbooks is the use of plants to provide seasoning. Fresh herbs, onions, and garlic appear repeatedly in the recipes. Pierre de Lune explained how to use an herbal paquet (packet) that could be dropped into cooking liquids to give them flavor. The little bundle included thyme, chervil, and parsley and was tied up with a piece of string; the optional strip of lard (fat bacon) was taken out for jours maigres (lean days). Pierre de Lune’s paquet is the ancestor of the modern bouquet garni. Increasingly, salty flavors were separated from sweet, and sweets relegated to the end of the meal. A harmonious balance of flavors and the enhancement, rather than disguise, of the main ingredients were desired.

Fresh parsley, scallions, shallots, and garlic are essential ingredients and flavorings in French cuisine. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil.


Food Culture in France

The late seventeenth-century cookbooks reflect the preference for order. The Classical-era manuals allude to the sequences of procedures that are necessary for complex cooking. The cook must keep on hand an all-purpose meat stock pour la nourriture (“for the alimentation”) of other dishes such as sauces and to moisten meats. He must make roux (flour cooked in butter) as a thickener, and he must use butter and fewer breadcrumbs as liaisons or binders. To complete the time-consuming preparations—mashing, grating, peeling, chopping, slicing, scaling, soaking, blanching, boiling, reducing, barding, mixing, kneading, whipping, stirring, sieving, clarifying—on the large scale required to cook grand meals, an army of kitchen help must assist the head chef. These preparations had to be carried out before a dish could be finished. Today, chefs spend hours in the kitchen completing their mise en place (“putting into place” or preparation, i.e., chopping parsley, peeling vegetables, and so on) before actually beginning to cook. The Classical cookbooks laid the foundation for the lush cooking that went on in wealthy houses during the eighteenth century. The recipes and procedures also underpin haute cuisine, the refined, complex style of cooking that chefs practiced in restaurants and hotels in the nineteenth century. The contemporary descendent of aristocratic banquet cuisine is today’s cuisine gastronomique, such as in the Michelin-starred restaurants. Despite the advances toward modern taste in Classical cooking, aristocratic banquet meals retained the ostentatious service à la française (French-style service) typical of the Renaissance. Each course consisted of a profusion of different dishes laid out in a perfectly symmetrical geometry on the table. One was obliged to take from whatever serving plate was near at hand. The ceremonial court meal served à la française reached its apogee in the dining rooms of Louis XIV (r. 1661–1715). The Sun King’s reign had begun with an unfortunate slight delivered by means of dinner. With money skimmed off from the state’s tax income, Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finances, built himself an estate and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte, then began to entertain in a style that fit his grand circumstances. In the summer of 1661, he staged two full days of festivities, including a parade of costumed allegorical figures who served supper and a massive edible monument of sugar confectionary, shiny preserved fruits, and ices, to honor Louis XIV. The mastermind behind the ill-fated but gorgeous banquet at Vaux was the maître d’hôtel or executive chef Franç ois Vatel. The king grew disgusted at Fouquet’s opulence, arranged for his minister’s arrest, and was never again outdone in the area of magnificent entertaining.

Historical Overview


Under the reign of Louis XIV, France subdued Spanish and Austrian rivals in Europe and set the standard for cultural brilliance across the Continent. Louis XIV ordered gardens and a brilliant hall of mirrors to be built at his château at Versailles. There he surrounded himself with his aristocratic entourage. The scheme was astute. The king made sure that people danced attendance upon him even when he arose from bed in the morning. For a noble, to risk an absence from a feast or the king’s intimate but ceremonial morning lever was to incur his displeasure and risk banishment to the yawning provinces. By holding political rivals in pleasing captivity at Versailles, Louis XIV prevented interference with his own monopoly on power. Protocol for serving and eating, like nearly every other aspect of court life, was designed to reflect and increase the greatness of the monarch. The king was the only man allowed to eat bareheaded. His food was marched in from the far-away kitchens by a long procession of guards, servants, and tasters. Although the use of the fork was firmly established by now among members of the aristocratic classes, Louis XIV was the only person at the table who did not bother with one, preferring to eat with his hands. Unsuccessful attempts had been made to recruit Vatel into service at Versailles; however, Vatel did stage one more dinner for the king. In 1669, now working for the Prince de Condé—long a rival to the king and suspected of a conspiracy against him—at the Château de Chantilly, Vatel staged an entertainment and weekend of feasting designed to restore his master to the good graces of the king. So great was the pressure of the occasion that the ingenious Vatel panicked when the delivery of fish failed to arrive, and he committed suicide. The epistolary chronicler Madame de Sévigné was not even there, but she habitually gathered all the gossip, and her account of Vatel’s death is practically the only credible information that survives. Madame de Sévigné wrote to her daughter that the fish wagons finally arrived, and the meal was a great success, at least for the Prince. Clearly, food and table manners were weighty matters during the Classical era. The table was a stage on which dramas of power were enacted every day. This is quite clear in the sly comedies of the playwright Molière, responsible for many of the evening entertainments at Versailles, just as he had been for the play presented by Fouquet at Vaux in 1661. In Tartuffe, ou l’Imposteur (Tartuffe, or The Imposter, 1669), for instance, the dynamics of the meal reveal the moral and psychological conflicts. A wealthy, gullible bourgeois has taken a devout individual into his household, but the soulful friend turns out to be a destructive parasite and first-rate hypocrite. Tartuffe literally eats his host out of house and home, attempts to

chocolate. and nearly swindles him of everything he owns. the mistress of the house grows sick and faint and cannot eat. tea. The introduction and the written instructions that accompany the pictures remind the carver that he should serve the best morsels. The anonymous compiler of the École parfaite included diagrams that show the steps for cutting up roast meats and whole cooked fish and fowl in order to serve them. During the eighteenth century. Menon’s anonymously published Cuisinière bourgeoise (The [Female] Bourgeois Cook. Regional cookbooks appeared in the nineteenth century and encyclopedic yet accessible references both to grand cooking and to home cooking in the twentieth. Today. 1662) borrowed not only recipes from cookbooks but also information from the tradition of treatises dating to the Renaissance on topics such as carving and serving. a century later. that the person cooking in any but the very wealthiest households was usually a woman. such as Tartuffe’s show of devout Catholicism (shared with Louis XIV). Visible conformity to rank and acceptable social mores. appropriately sauced and garnished. The lesser pieces were doled out to the less distinguished guests. 1691) responded to the incipient social changes that brought cookbooks aimed for use in nonaristocratic households. showing the social order gone wrong. 1746) even acknowledged. The anthology called L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche (The Finishing School for Cooks. they would be commonplace. by its title. Mexican chocolate (drunk as a beverage) was adopted at the Spanish court and then in the Spanish Netherlands before coming to . AND SUGAR During the seventeenth century.22 Food Culture in France seduce his virtuous wife. COFFEE. and sugar became fashionable among elites. vampiric anti-communion. Menon’s cookbook was a best-seller and the only ancien régime cookbook to be reissued immediately after the Revolution of 1789. CHOCOLATE. to those with the highest social standing. the title of Massialot’s Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Royal and Bourgeois Cook. coffee. TEA. The shared meal turns into a perverse. Published at the very end of the seventeenth century. Cookbooks and other documents pertaining to meals reveal the strong sense of social hierarchy that prevailed at the height of the ancien régime. As gluttonous Tartuffe grows fat on bread and wine that are not his own. the many illustrated cookbooks that are designed to appeal to the broad swathe of the middle classes combine the visual appeal of the art or photography book and the personal tone of the memoir with the practical methods in the recipes themselves. was the order of the day.

wine. cane cultivation spread with Arabian settlements to areas of the Mediterranean and North Africa. As all three beverages were thought to be overly strong and bitter. During the Middle Ages. where the aristocracy considered the drink an aphrodisiac. In eighteenth-century France. Britain blocked French ships from landing in the western ports. In antiquity cane sugar had been a curiosity known to come from India. Coffee made its way from Ethiopia and Yemen. an Ottoman ambassador on diplomatic mission from Constantinople also introduced coffee to the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. especially coffee. The banker. As early as the late sixteenth century. intellectually stimulating drink. Perception of coffee’s effects varied. sculptures made of spun sugar and marzipan (ground almonds mixed with sugar). In this era the sugar industry depended on the slave trade for labor. Throughout the nineteenth century. and from there it spread to other Caribbean islands and the South American mainland. Portuguese and Spanish colonial plantations staffed by slaves in the Atlantic. France soon . Sugar was so expensive that only small quantities returned to Europe. Napoleon now called for the cultivation of sugar beets in northern France and the Belgian provinces. the botanist Olivier de Serres had remarked on the high sugar content of beets. Separately. and by boat from Venice to the trading center of Marseille. In the nineteenth century. and crusaders supervised sugar plantations in Jerusalem. but the supply to France increased substantially after Henri IV chartered the French East India Company in 1604. then British and French ones in the Caribbean. for which Napoleon named him chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. Europeans added cane sugar to sweeten them. From the thirteenth century. had entirely replaced beer. sent quantities of sugar to Europe. The taste for sugared coffee and the other beverages was initially restricted to aristocratic and bourgeois circles. through the Arab world to Turkey. industrialist. and amateur botanist Benjamin Delessert developed a dependable refining process. to drink coffee imported from the Antilles and to eat sweets made with Martinique or Guadeloupe sugar was to support the economy. Columbus brought cane to Santo Domingo. When Napoleon boycotted trade with Britain in the early nineteenth century.Historical Overview 23 France. in view of the competition from other colonial nations. France became a major producer of sugar. France’s colonial sugar could not reach the country. The Dutch East India Company brought Chinese tea to Europe. and by the twentieth century the hot drinks. in 1669. and soups as morning meals. decorated royal tables as symbols of wealth and power. then via the Mediterranean port cities to southern Europe. but generally it was seen as a sobering. sugar was rare to unknown in peasant households.

known as Franç ois Procope. Procope eschewed the eastern custom of leaving the grounds in the cup. At present. cafés became common in Paris and modern-style restaurants developed.7 pounds) of sugar yearly. many a café has served at once as office. The rags-to-riches story in Pierre Carlet de Marivaux’s novel Le Paysan parvenu (The Parvenu Peasant.3 kilograms (about 11. rare spice. consumption averaged 5. the average person consumes nearly 33. or wondrous decoration for luxurious tables. sugar manufacturers began to advertise heavily. Four-fifths of the population still lived in villages and rural areas. . In this era new customs blurred old divisions among the social orders. discuss politics. along with ices. Over the stimulating small bowls or cups of coffee. the bourgeois fiscal administrators and money lenders whose opulent eating habits rivaled those of the previous century’s aristocrats. liqueurs. but the sway of the merchant and bourgeois classes. ENLIGHTENMENT CAFÉS In the eighteenth century. and this attitude changed.24 Food Culture in France had a reliable local source of sugar. In contrast with the nourishing. As late as the 1890s. During the 1860s. At the novel’s start. the café still operates in Paris. sugar was viewed as unhealthy9. dining room. Because cafés were open to all comers. Since then. Nobles engaged in trades such as mining to exploit their land. allowing bourgeois citizens to purchase power along with noble titles. sugar became the common sweetener and preservative that it is today. No longer a medical wonder. Following Italian practice.5 kilograms (74 pounds) of sugar each year. They notably provided an ambiance quite different from the boozy miasma of the tavern. Many cafés served a selection of foods as well as coffee. the protagonist is fed by the cook in the back kitchen of the house where he is a servant. working class prejudice mitigated against sugar. yet retained hereditary privileges. and daily or nightly haven for writers scribbling away under the gaze of the garçon de café (café waiter). including bankers. This works out to about one teaspoonful each day. savory staples of meat and bread. people from all walks of life sat down to read the newspaper. salon. and he presides over his own richly appointed table. The monarch sold administrative offices to raise money. France’s first successful café had been opened in the 1670s by the young Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli. grew in the urban centers. 1735) marked rungs on the social ladder through culinary and gastronomic distinctions. coffee-drinking acquired its lasting association with conversation and the free exchange of information. and debate the latest play. and instead served filtered coffee. however. and candied fruits. he has married his way into a family of fermiers généraux (tax farmers). By its end. play chess.

and jurisprudence. and others wrote collaboratively at mid-century. des Arts. but also on pastry-making. The topic is treated with interest in the great Encyclopédie. 1751–1765) that the philosophe Denis Diderot. Diderot gave the word a new. Materialist thought even rationalized pleasure by means of the table. et des Métiers (Encyclopedia. the mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. bread-baking. they solicited articles not just on the expected topics of theology. Cultivated into an . or Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences. Now gourmandise also meant the deepened enjoyment that comes with understanding. In his article on the topic for the Encyclopédie. secular definition and introduced the notion of moderation. and strawberries.Historical Overview 25 Little escapes the watchful eye of the café waiter. The word gourmandise or gluttony had referred since the fourteenth century to the Deadly Sin. and Trades. The editors believed that analysis and reason should be applied in all domains. Accordingly. butchering. PHILOSOPHICAL FOOD The democratic attitude that flourished in the café guided the Enlightenment approach to food in other spheres. Diderot notoriously loved to eat and drink. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. and he took pleasure into account. history. Arts. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. Although of delicate digestion.

Social critics associated with the later Enlightenment couched their discussions in a more polemical way. saw both urbane gastronomic pleasure and urban food shortage as two sides of the same decadent coin. In his novel Émile (1762). He complained that. breast-feed their new babies. all observant Catholics were still supposed to avoid prohibited foods or foods of unclear status. Rousseau advocated that mothers. which makes people “cruel and ferocious. His ideas for a natural diet reached a wide audience. the philosophe and novelist Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau was actually a francophone Swiss. which portrayed an ideal family and household economy. and Rousseau’s novel Julie. a staple for many who did not have the means to pay for meat.” and they eschew meat.” Given the choice. contrary to the received idea that the sophisticated French eat well. for instance. apply heat to butter and dairy products. everyday existence.”10 Foods should be prepared with as few alterations to their original state as possible.11 MODERN RESTAURANTS The modern restaurant experience took shape in Paris in the late eighteenth century. informed appreciation for the daily pleasures of cooking and eating is a defining aspect of the French approach to food. or The New Heloise. the bodily necessity of eating could enhance. The word restaurant . Today. a few guilded traiteurs or cook-caterers expanded business by offering meals in a different kind of setting than the rough table d’hôte of the innkeeper.26 Food Culture in France intellectual as well as a sensual experience. Beginning in the 1760s. rather than simply maintain. he observed. 1761). they are in fact the only people “who do not know how to eat. children incline to vegetables along with “dairy products. about educating children. the reformer and journalist Louis-Sébastien Mercier recorded in the Tableau de Paris (Picture of Paris) the misery that ecclesiastical fasting requirements inflicted on the poor. simple food as the most wholesome and also as the best for character formation. pastries. In defiance of contemporary norms for those with any disposable income. such as eggs. Mercier observed with chagrin that any prohibition unjustly strained the poor. rather than hired wet-nurses. Bread riots that continued through the most of the century bore out this view. One should eat foods in season. Writing during the 1780s. Ever the contrarian. whose real problem was getting enough to eat at all. One should not. On lean days. Parents sought guidance in Émile to raising their own children. [and] fruits. he recommended pure. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Julie. was a bestseller. because so specialized an art is required to make dishes edible for them.

for men) before the law. Although they frequented a public place. the Grande Taverne de Londres (Great London Tavern). and rice puddings. who served southern specialties such as brandade de morue (creamed salt cod) and bouillabaisse (Provençal fish soup).12 The famous early establishments were based in Paris. the customer chose exactly what and when he or she wanted to eat. Many opened restaurants. After the Revolution and the chaos of the Terror in the early 1790s. “Quality” now came from work or performance. be kept or quickly prepared for service at a moment’s notice. opened in 1782 by Antoine Beauvilliers. The new establishments listed the available dishes and their prices on a carte or menu. Before long. The new Code Napoléon or Civil Law Code of 1804 scripted autonomy and equality (at least. had a serious interest in food and deep skepticism regarding the motives of the powerful. QUALITY. salubrious preparations could also. It was necessary to decipher the menu and sometimes to outsmart a sneaky maître d’hôtel who could run up the bill by bringing extras. the term restaurant meant the eating house itself. who had cooked for the Count of Provence. soft-boiled eggs. they served items such as boiled capons. Grimod. fruit preserves. legal reforms enacted under Napoleon shaped a country changed by republican ideas although still breathing ancien régime air. an entire French dining experience. which is still open today. The light. individual tables. some private cooks who had been employed in great houses had to start over. It fostered meritocracy rather than entitlement based on inherited name or rank. COMFORT. exporting abroad for commercial purposes not just la cuisine française (French cooking) but. rather than bloodlines. and Véry. His satirical response was to develop a mocking code gourmand or food . They caught on quickly. AND ENJOYMENT The largely unsung hero of the modern working class and middle class table was the eclectic aristocrat turned food critic Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reynière (1758–1837). conveniently. After the revolutionary decade (1790s). diners sat at private. In addition to broths. although the first trip to a restaurant could be fraught with peril.Historical Overview 27 designated a “restorative” soup or bouillon made from meat or fowl that was reduced to a rich essence. In new maisons de santé (“health houses”) or salles du restaurateur (“restaurateur’s rooms”) the caterers aimed to appeal to clients by providing the health-giving decoctions on a flexible schedule. the future Louis XVIII. who had trained as a lawyer. These included the Trois Frères Provençaux (Three Brothers from Provence). Véfour. either within the country or elsewhere. notably.

in part for the advertising.13 During the Napoleonic Empire (1804–1815). Today. The service of a full meal in separate courses became standard in the most elegant and expensive contexts by the 1860s. During the national conversion to the metric system and uniform system of weights and measures. and steamed dumplings. eaters. and consumers. all belonged to a consumer culture that was expanding in many domains. Despite his own distinguished. the German states. Grimod vociferously criticized unscrupulous shopkeepers and traders who took advantage of the situation to overcharge customers or short-weight meats or produce. such as the fine mineral waters. he championed (from his desk chair and dining table—Parisian central command for gastronomic operations) specialties of. exceedingly wealthy origins. he invented (in 1804) a clever system for judging quality and “legitimating” all that was best to eat. and in part for fear of reprisal from this fearsome new species of ally-adversary. He was an early advocate of serving in the style then called à la russe (Russian style). He disdained the old aristocratic preference for ostentation. Good taste and knowledge now emerged from interactions among producers and consumers. he soon tired of Napoleon’s all-conquering military sweep across Europe and worried over the hostilities with Britain. This allowed the eater to fully appreciate each food at the peak of its perfection and to enjoy it hot. Food producers did so. the food critic. He recommended that meals be simplified. or chefs and eaters. To protest the former. critics. Grimod’s guides fueled the nascent gastronomic industry made up of restaurants. and writers and readers. and writers. too. meat stews. Grimod had a modern taste for comfort and enjoyment. What is remarkable is that fashion in food no longer emanated from exclusive removes associated with the centralized power (the court. Instead of the old service à la française. through nearly the end of the preceding century). while resting assured that he had a similar portion to his neighbor. Grimod preferred that each service or course of a meal consist of a single dish. boutiques. the wealthier segments) and from the response of that public. Grimod had a strong sense of duty as a public advocate. This meant that he persuaded caterers and restaurateurs to give him samples of their wares. for instance. Simplicity made the method adaptable for modest households. Grimod’s system had its coercive aspects. the same is true for the complex relationships that exist today among food producers.28 Food Culture in France connoisseur’s canon of laws for the table. Like many others of his time. the . but rather from establishments open to the public (or at least. The latter interfered with the flow of goods so necessary to support fine dining. Each preparation should come to the table completely prepared and perfectly done. At the same time.

Brillat’s cheerful.” recommendations for fattening and slimming diets. and nearly everything makes its way into his book. If Grimod mobilized a comprehensive revolution at the table.Historical Overview 29 Enjoyment is the best praise for good cooking. like Grimod and Brillat. Brillat was a magistrate who fled France during the Terror. whether served at home or in a restaurant. jokes for enlivening a dinner party—all have their place in the Physiologie. where he taught French and music and famously shot a wild turkey in the “virgin forests” of Connecticut before making his way back home. ending up in New England. Notes on the physical faculties of taste and digestion. the more famous writer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) spread the word with the deliciously amusing Physiologie du goût (Physiology of Taste. a discussion of the “Influence of Gourmandise on Marital Bliss. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/ regard public-unpact. in Brillat’s view. observations not only on feasting and fasting but also on thirst. 1826). The chef Antonin or Marie-Antoine Carême (1783–1833). Food appreciation. sociable banter demystified dining rituals formerly associated with grand tables and endeared the author to generations of readers. is fundamental to the understanding of nearly everything. gossipy anecdotes. ceremonial yet simple structure is typical for any full meal. a history of science culminating with “the science of gastronomy” triumphant. participated both in the ancien and in the nouveau .

Carême had nothing good to say about the use of spices. NINETEENTH-CENTURY RESTAURANTS Restaurant culture expanded rapidly during the nineteenth century. few people capable of cooking on a high level cared to work as private servants. and a steady stream of people left the country for the northern and eastern coal-mining cities and places such as Lille. social. the Bourbon monarchy restored in 1815) and Baron James de Rothschild. He was a great fan of the expensive truffle and other such luxuries. He was a private chef in the old style who served some of the most prominent individuals in Europe. industrialization favored urbanization. Carême was also a self-made man and phenomenal selfpromoter who achieved fame and professional success in a thoroughly modern fashion. and dietary. the Napoleonic Empire. rakish bishop. including Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (wily politician. which had mechanized factories . treatment by novelists.30 Food Culture in France régimes—political. He authored several volumes on pastry-making and cooking. The accounts of travelers and memoirists. but he felt strongly that magnificence and elaborate decoration had their place on the table. His cooking was famous for its variety. and delicacy of flavor. contemporary studies of eating out. 1833). As a cook for fancy clients. and he preferred a modified version of service à la française. The employment of highly accomplished private cooks in many wealthy and upper middle class houses continued until well after the mid-twentieth century. The nineteenth-century population was predominantly rural and agricultural. and notable gastronome who served under several administrations: the republican Directory of the late 1790s. Mulhouse. including the great oeuvre heavily entitled Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle: Traité élémentaire et pratique suivi de dissertations culinaires et gastronomiques utiles au progrès de cet art (Art of French Cuisine in the Nineteenth Century: Basic and Practical Treatise Followed by Culinary and Gastronomic Dissertations Useful to the Progress of this Art. The socialist politics of the 1980s finally made the situation somewhat embarrassing for at least some employers. he clearly had a professional interest in avoiding the truly modern simplicity advocated by Grimod. By that time. The five-volume cookbook (the last two volumes were finished by his executors after his death) modernizes aristocratic grande cuisine for the grand bourgeois table. All the same. and documents such as balance sheets and menus give a sense of why this was so. preferring jobs that better integrated them into the professional community of cooks. sense of proportion. and Rouen.

Historical Overview


beginning in the 1830s. Restaurants, at this juncture, like the taverns and cafés that preceded them, opened primarily in cities and were a mainstay of workers. Quality of the food, ambience, and price varied, as they do today. The multiplication of fancy restaurants during the First Empire had fostered a connoisseur culture peopled by the new food critics and gastronomes, as well as ostentatious consumption by high rollers of various stripes. This grande cuisine or haute cuisine culminated late in the century in the cooking and cookbooks of chef Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935) and in dining rooms within the new “palaces” or grand hotels. But an equally or perhaps even more remarkable phenomenon was the spread of decent but inexpensive restaurants that served a modest prix fixe (fixed price) menu aimed at a middle class clientele. Such menus listed prices for full meals in three or four courses, not for individual items, giving one a package deal. Workers favored inexpensive bouillon shops, where they chose from a limited range of à la carte (individually listed) items served in small portions; the series of beef and bouillon restaurants opened in the 1860s by the butcher Duval are an early example of a chain restaurant. Dairy restaurants were also popular among the working classes. Cheap gargotes catered to the impecunious, such as students and laborers. Guinguettes (outdoor cafés and dance-halls) opened seasonally outside city limits to avoid the municipal taxes. The café-concerts had music as well as coffee, alcohol, and food. Restaurants de nuit had dancing and usually a dubious reputation. Menus in these diverse restaurants had in common that they varied by season and offered three and sometimes four courses to compose a full meal. Two massive studies based on interviews of workers begun in the mid-nineteenth century, Pierre-Guillaume-Frédéric Le Play’s Ouvriers Européens (European Workers, 1855) and the collective work completed by his followers entitled the Ouvriers des Deux Mondes (Workers from Two Worlds, 1859–1930), show that motivations for frequenting restaurants were diverse. These ranged from periodic indulgence or overindulgence in food and wine, usually right after payday, to making oneself available for encounters that would drum up business and increase one’s income. Sometimes one simply purchased at a restaurant what was needed to supplement the essentials of a meal brought from home.14 In many cases, small, cramped city apartments without amenities for cooking made eating out a matter of necessity. New lighting technologies—stable-burning oil lamps (by the 1790s), gas lamps (1860s), and electricity (1880s)—strategically adopted by businesses increased the appeal of restaurants and lengthened opening hours.15 The legacy of the affordable public eating culture has


Food Culture in France

been quite influential. Today, motivations for eating out differ, but it is typical that throughout the country one can eat a meal of decent quality outside the home without breaking the bank.

In the late nineteenth century, outside of the cities with their mechanized factories and restaurant culture, the picture was quite different. Twothirds of the population lived in rural areas and villages. The lifestyle was agricultural, and farming was essentially preindustrial; it is ironic that in this era, Third Republic (1870–1940) politicians famously justified ambitious colonial expansion as a mission civilisatrice or mission to civilize and assist in the modernization of the occupied countries. At home, meals for most people still reflected the aim of self-sufficiency. With the exception of a few items such as salt, sugar, and coffee that had to be purchased, what was eaten came from the kitchen garden or the family farm. For farmers, still called paysans (peasants or country people), main meals were built around soups, which stretched ingredients as far as possible. Other staples were the garden vegetables that stored well: potatoes, carrots, cabbages, and beans. If animals were kept, butter and eggs could be sold. If a pig was killed, it was pickled or smoked, to last the whole 12-month cycle.16 Bread came from the village baker, or might still be baked at home. For those who lived and—for the moment, stayed—in the country, it was not so much the texture or material aspect of life but rather attitudes that underwent a certain revision. The early years of the Third Republic were characterized by a mix of nationalism and protectionism, on the one hand, and democratic ideals and liberal economic policies, on the other. The relationship among village bread baker, priest, and schoolmaster in the classic film La Femme du boulanger (The Baker’s Wife, 1939) poignantly depicts the difficult changing of the conceptual guard.17 The 1880s had brought free, compulsory primary school education for all children and the abolishment of religious education in public schools. The schoolmaster was charged to represent the Republic and universally to inculcate its values in his pupils. He supplanted the priest as an exemplary figure in villages. At the same time, at least in some rural areas, the routines of everyday life had hardly changed. In the film, when the village baker is deserted by his wayward wife, he becomes so distraught that he cannot make bread, and the village begins to worry about its stomach. Priest and schoolmaster, who conversed by peevish argument, now join forces to—of all things— ford a stream to reach the baker’s wife and coax her into returning home. The priest is hampered by the voluminous skirts of his cassock and suffers

Historical Overview


being carried on the shoulders of the teacher, who wears a modern (and masculine) suit. The waters part neither for the priest nor for the teacher. The teacher seems better equipped to meet the challenges of modern life, but the priest has a practiced bedside manner. Both are instrumental in reestablishing harmony and unity in their community. Communion in the village is now secular. It takes place at the baker’s and in each family’s dining room, as much as in the church, with the baker’s bread rather than the host distributed by the priest, and over the sociable glass of pastis (anise liqueur typical in the South) taken at the one village café rather than with the sip of consecrated wine. The film presents a nostalgic, idealized vision of village life, yet it is also accurate in some of the essentials. It is notable that rituals of communion—or community—persist so strongly. Participation in the collectivity of the village and shared cultural memory exert a strong force.

Industrialization brought the looming threat that the individual character of foods and food production, associated with quality and safety, could be obliterated by impersonal processes beyond the ken of consumers or of most producers. Adulteration of wine, either to doctor the flavor or to attempt to preserve it, had always been a problem, although some practices were considered acceptable. Fraud and the definition of words complicated the issue. For instance, “wine” made from raisins rather than fresh grapes technically was made from grapes. In the late nineteenth century, new chemical processes of synthesis forced people to imagine the weird possibility that a liquid sold as wine might not be made from grapes at all.18 Wine, bread, and meat were the essential sources of calories for urban workers. A further strain was caused by increased demand for wine in the cities at the same time that a devastating string of contagions decimated vines in the countryside. Destructive mildews, grape phylloxera (a kind of aphid) and other plagues caused wine production to plummet in the 15 years from 1875 to 1889 to a mere quarter of earlier levels. A hygenics movement concerned with the rise in alcoholism insisted that it was the modern adulterated wines that were causing problems. The ancestral beverage of the Gauls, on the other hand, was touted as nourishing and healthy. The regulations and attitudes that emerged were part of the reaction to the complex of issues presented by industrialization, production in difficult times, and rising demand. Laws passed in the late nineteenth century provided ever more precise descriptive definitions of wines and methods of wine production.


Food Culture in France

The Griffe Law of 1889 specified that “No one shall expedite, sell, or cause to be sold under the name of wine any product other than that deriving from the fermentation of fresh grapes.” This was le vin naturel or “natural wine.” Vin factice, which meant “artificial” or “elaborated” or “synthetic” wine, was not condemned, but it was now clearly to be distinguished from “natural” wine. The idea was that information would orient people to choose “natural” wine; fraud, it was assumed, would be eliminated as a consequence. When this did not happen, more interventionist statutes were passed to prevent certain types of adulteration. Notably, a new law passed in 1894 forbade mouillage or stretching wine with water (from mouiller, to wet or moisten) and vinage or increasing the alcohol content by adding must. Mouillage did not threaten the health of anybody who drank the treated wine, but the motivation for making it illegal was to promote transparency in business transactions. The longstanding law of 1905 against fraud enlarged on this idea, leading to debate among winemakers and finally to a new statute in 1907 that precisely detailed how words such as vin (wine) and méthode champenoise (Champagne-making method) should be used to correspond to specific processes of production. Later in the century, socialist and protectionist politics continued in the same direction of regulation, but for different reasons than the earlier laws inspired by liberal motives. Strict regulation of fraud and a politics of quality served the national economic interest; for the same reason, the concern for public health became another primary motive for food regulation.

Late nineteenth-century regionalism and the retour à la terre (“return to the soil” or peasantism) that flourished between the two World Wars contributed to defining the singular nature of foods through terroir. To be sure, neither regional specialty nor the term terroir was anything new. GalloRomans knew that their best oysters came from Brittany and Normandy and that there were no better hams than those from Bayonne. The royal tables of the absolutist era groaned under the weight of what was best from all over France. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Grimod de la Reynière advocated gastronomic tourism, writing that one had to travel to Riom (Auvergne) to eat the best frogs legs, properly prepared by a knowledgeable local expert. In 1808, the lawyer and pharmacist Charles Louis Cadet de Gassicourt published a carte gastronomique (gastronomic map) keyed with small pictures to show the typical foods for each region and town. Awareness of regional particularity increased throughout the

In the nineteenth century. dirt) and territoire (territory. such as lamb from the prés-salés (salt marshes) and garriguettes. Additional details. sunlight. if redolent of the countryside. a Bordeaux. A food or wine with the taste of terroir is understood in opposition to commercial or industrial fast food and supermarket products seen as sterile and impersonal. Like regional specialty. A person’s way of speaking. were not known as being unusually good or even very distinctive. altitude). pinot noir) from which they are made. the effort to decentralize culture from Paris into the provinces led to cooperation between the state and the regions to develop local identities. are named second. Terroir also includes historical and cultural practices of the people involved. and soil (its physical characteristics. the elongated strawberries originally grown in scrublands. interaction with water). manufacturing process. a Chablis. and taste that defines good-quality. cabernet. the term took on an association with other characteristics perceived as local. artisanal wines and foods. as they are today. Regulations for the AOC derive from classifications for Bordeaux wines instituted in the mid-nineteenth century. rainfall) of the location where the grapes are grown. Of Latin origin. As a way of competing. as trains and other forms of transport made it easier to travel and also to perceive regional variations. inexpensive Spanish and Portuguese wines were cutting out French wines from European markets. area). at that point. The specificity that informs terroir also underpins the Appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). Whereas American wines are identified first by the name of the grape (merlot. the term terroir is used to evoke the connection among place. components of terroir include the climate (temperature. Bordeaux wines. During the twentieth century. Today. was called the accent of his terroir. the term has been used in French since the thirteenth century to mean a plot of land suitable for cultivation. topography (slope. or the human element. of unclear provenance and little savor. as having the goût du (taste of) terroir.Historical Overview 35 century and was key both for rallying nationalist sentiment and stimulating the tourist industry. such as the cépage (type of vine or grape: gamay. One speaks of a wine or a food. This meaning of the term terroir informs the familiar French metonymy for wine. French wines are identified first by the place from which they come: a Côtes-du-Rhône. Terroir is related to terre (earth. or the specific vineyard within a geographical region or even a town. For wine. winegrowers from the Médoc region . the term terroir is as old as the hills that it long designated. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. chemistry. and so on) and the year or vintage.

36 Food Culture in France applied themselves to strategically developing grands crus or distinguished Bordeaux wines that stand up to long aging and command very high prices. as imitations of the distinguished bottles came on the market. They paid special attention to aging the reds in oak barrels. they carefully cultivated the oldest and best vines. As a measure of protection for their exceptional wines. The fifth estate was not added until 1973. from the poulet de Bresse (Bresse Village appellation red burgundy from the Côte de Beaune district of the Côte d’Or. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. the premier cru designation was awarded to wines from four estates. the AOC was expanded to cover all manner of foods as well as wines. To improve quality. In 1990. The best label of premier cru (first growth) and even the least distinguished label of cinquième cru (fifth growth) vastly increased the market value of these wines. This reinforced the connection between the place where grapes where grown and the resulting wine. the AOC certifies the place of origin. More capacious legislation passed in 1935 established the Appellation d’origine contrôlée. Along the way. which could be applied to wines from locations other than in Bordeaux. these growers also consolidated the cultivated parcels on their estates.19 The many winemakers whom the grades excluded naturally wished to obtain some sort of distinguishing label for their own bottles. The fraud laws became important for winemakers. and the mode of production of a variety of products. Today. The prestigious labels were not easy to obtain. the specific type. . proprietors evolved special classifications that were applied beginning in 1855. In the first year.

laws pertaining to food must now be negotiated within that framework. In 1992. extensive research and documentation are necessary to establish the application dossier for a food. Today the European Commission administers a set of indications based on geography and origin for food and wine in all the member states. the European Community Council passed regulations based on the French AOC that extend to all the member states. and lettuce at market shortly before the conversion in 2002 from the French franc to the Euro as the unit of currency. with the reduction of trade barriers within the member Farmer selling artichokes. overseen processes of cultivation and manufacture. radishes.Historical Overview 37 chicken) and beurre d’Isigny-Sainte-Mère (Isigny-Sainte-Mère butter). The AOC also functions as a protectionist measure that is a boon to sellers and producers and to tourism. The passage of the European legislation coincided. and including some of the vins de table (table wines). Because the designation AOC indicates a historical pedigree and also functions something like a patent for the final product. practical form to the appreciation for quality and particularity. to various fruits. It embodies the general acknowledgment that food with the best flavor and the most appealing textures may result from carefully. ironically. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. FRANCE AND EUROPE Because of membership in the European Union. . The certification of the AOC gives a concrete. even painstakingly.

a popular vote defeated a referendum to approve the proposed draft of a European Constitution. In the spring of 2005. translator Lewis Thorpe (London: Folio Society.38 Food Culture in France states of the European Union. translator and editor Mark Grant (Totnes. Cited in Sainted Women of the Dark Ages. at present. Compliance with European economic policy imposes common standards on member nations. Creating Community with Food and Drink in Merovingian Gaul (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ferrier. 440s). France is notorious for refusing to abandon. 2. editor Bruno Krusch. Salaman. 1992). Karolus Imperator Capitulare de Villis. cod. for fear of the consequences that greater liberalism could have on cherished social protections and on the quality of life. . 1538. The History and Social Influence of the Potato (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. LXX. or even much reduce. 36. 636 and 674. But these stances hardly prevent ongoing engagement with European projects. At the time. to conflicts of interest. Despite compliance in other areas. Vita Sadalbergae abbatissae Laudunensis 20. 4. 1994). 1970). editors and translators Jo Ann McNamara and John E. published Madrid: 1886). 7. Brereton and Janet M. 5. Satires (1663–1701). Life of Charlemagne (ca. 54. On the Governance of God (c. in Capitulare de villis. III and VII.. 8. De observatione ciborum (On the Observance of Foods). 1910). Rather. 1 (Paris: GarnierFlammarion. 16. Cited in Redcliffe N. on occasion. the Presbyter. guelf. in Oeuvres vol. This has led. Le Mesnagier de Paris (ca. the negative vote was seen as a major setback for Europe. 1949). translator Jeremiah F. Nicolas Boileau. Salvian of Marseille. subsidies in place since the early 1960s for its farmers. 61. 1996). 254 Helmst. translator Karin Ueltschi (Paris: Librarie Générale Française. 1969). NOTES 1. 1971). Juan de Castellanos. 1393). O’Sullivan (New York: Cima Publishing Company. from The Writings of Salvian. 829–36). Halborg with E. Einhard the Frank. 3. the primary challenge is to balance the particular concerns of France with the larger endeavors of Europe. “Volumus quod in horto omnes herbas habeant…” (We want that all the plants be cultivated in the garden…). 2 vols. 1947). Historia del Nuevo Reino de Granada (ca. 64–67. 2002). editors Georgina E. they simply make clear that. editor Carlrichard Brühl (Stuttgart: Müller und Schindler. Gordon Whatley (Durham: Duke University Press. 6. Devon: Prospect Books. This includes a relatively liberal approach toward free trade and privatization. der August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. 189–90 and Bonnie Effros. Anthimus. in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum merovingicarum 5 (Hanover: Impensis bibliopolii Hahniani.

Drink and Identity. editor Peter Scholliers (Oxford: Berg. 1880–1914. Grimod de la Reynière. 1966). New York: Vintage Books. 2001). Weiss (New York: Routledge. 14. “Eating Out during the Workday: Consumption and Working Habits among Urban Labourers in France in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century. 2001). Almanach des gourmands. Schehr and Allen S.” in La qualité des produits en France (XVIIIe-XXe siècles). “Film. 263–80 in Jacobs and Scholliers. “La construction de la qualité du vin.” in The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (1984.” pp. 10.” pp. 16. 17. 1996). 233. . 99–118 in Food. 2003). 337–49 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. The Invention of the Restaurant (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 11. Cinquième année (Paris: Maradan. Anne Lhuissier. 12. Alessandro Stanziani. 13. and in French Culture. Norms of Consumption and the Labouring Classes in Nineteenth-Century France. Rebecca Spang. 1807). 2000). editor Alessandro Stanziani (Paris: Belin. Dana Strand. den Hartog. Ulin. 2003). 19. 1985). “A Bourgeois Good? Sugar. on the Page. 18. 37. Robert Darnton. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. Food. “Technological Innovations and Eating Out as a Mass Phenomenon in Europe. Adel P. Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 194. Eugen Weber. “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensitivity. Emile. 203–20. Vintages and Traditions (Washington: Smithsonian Institution. editors Lawrence R.” in French Food: On the Table.Historical Overview 39 9. 15. The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s (New York: Norton.” pp. Book 2 (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion. 123–50. 1994).. and ‘La Francité’: From le pain quotidien to McDo. Martin Breugel. eds. Robert C. ou de l’éducation (1762). 46–50.


The taste for. then cheese. A slang word for a job is gagne-pain. BREAD For centuries. different butchering practices. the common orchard fruits. as well as a powerful religious symbol. and meat come first. to long-standing traditions of cultivation and of practices such as hunting. followed by vegetables. baked goods—and the digestif (after-dinner drink) appear at the end. Only a century ago. because it is how you earn (gagner) the bread that keeps you alive.2 Major Foods and Ingredients An astounding variety of foods are eaten in France. say. To “take the bread out of someone’s mouth” is to rob him of his livelihood. Americans are of course quite familiar with items such as beef. wine. Bread. Horse is not treated as food in the United States. grated raw celery root salad with a cream dressing—a favorite bistro lunch—may come as a a surprise. for instance. To present the major foods and ingredients. Your pain quotidien (daily bread) is the food that you count on eating every day. each person ate 500 grams (on the order of a half-pound) daily. as well as the typical preparations give beef a special flavor in France. about three . Today. Dessert—fruits. this chapter broadly follows the structure of the traditional meal in courses. The language has numerous expressions that refer to bread. This is due to the diversity of agricultural production. bread was a staple of the diet. and eponymous exports such as Champagne. and. to the many imports. more recently. Even so.

Large round boules used to be a staple. that is. for country-style loaves. At best. The bâtard (bastard) is a free-form loaf named for the mixed leavening agents—both yeast and a sour-dough starter—used to make it. Recent interest in eating whole grains for health has brought dark breads back into fashion. and moister on the inside.42 Food Culture in France Buying a baguette at the boulangerie Au pain chô in Sainte Maxime. Breads are identified by name and. or pas trop cuite (baked less). and darker bread made from unrefined wheat or rye was typical for the poor. darker and dryer. In a bakery the baguette can be purchased bien cuite (well cooked). or four slices of bread is average. the crust is crispy. In cafés. and the crumb chewy and delicate.5 inches). rather in boulangeries (bakery shops) or industrial bakeries. slices of bread are placed on the table in a basket to accompany food. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. Bread is rarely made at home. A slim relative of the baguette is the ficelle (string). bistros. similarly long but half the diameter. taken out of the oven when it is still pale gold. and restaurants. The dough rising on the racks at the back of the shop awaits baking. Bread—no matter how small the quantity—makes a meal complete. Rustic . crusty white baguette is typical of Paris. as a matter of course. delicately crispy. The long (70 cm or 27. by weight. although it is eaten all over the country. that is. thin.

however. The old-style breads cost more than industrially produced loaves but taste so much better that people seek them out. such as among . responsible for a fifth of global production. In certain métiers or trades. Bread and crumbs have numerous uses in cooking. It usually was drunk mixed with water. The “different” wines drunk by rag-pickers. about a half-liter (the better part of a pint) each day. and cider. poet Charles Baudelaire evoked the infinitely variable “soul” of wine in a series of poems. wine consumption averaged 170 liters (45 gallons) per person yearly. Jewish bakeries sell challah. or potatoes that is baked in the oven. olives. not to mention poets1 lead variously to drunkenness (either divine or simply boorish). France is the premier producer in the world. skill. it really was often safer to drink wine. spiritual transcendence. Recently. As recently as the late 1930s. as well as bagels covered with poppy or sesame seeds. such as organic. when adding bread to soup made a heartier meal. assassins. In the mid-nineteenth century. In Paris. They use older processes. Croûtons are placed in the bottom of onion soup bowls. to eat with a meal. The taste for croûtons (toasted slices of bread) with soup remains. The old-style processes are slower. a safe beverage that gives life and strength. Most bread is sliced in the kitchen or at table. Wine was usually mixed with water. Metz. Sprinkled on top of a dish of meat. quality declined. Wine has long been thought of as hygienic and nourishing. WINE Wine has been produced on French soil since antiquity. the braided loaf fortified with eggs that is eaten on the Sabbath. such as proofing with sourdough or wheat flour starter instead of with fast-rising yeast. unrefined.Major Foods and Ingredients 43 pains de campagne (country breads) can be enriched with dried figs. beer. They require more labor. and deep sleep. and nuts. or else broken off in chunks. and better keeping qualities. vegetables. Today. they form an attractive crust. and they accompany fish soups. the artisanal methods result in bread that has a deeper flavor. poetic inspiration. effectively sterilized through the presence of alcohol. The high level of alcohol consumption led to high levels of liver problems and alcoholism. or stoneground flours. Panade is a carryover from poorer days and peasant traditions. some bakers have begun to reverse this trend. Before the modern understanding of water cleanliness and contamination. a silkier and more elastic crumb. They choose better ingredients. When bread-baking practices were standardized and mechanized in the second half of the twentieth century. and attention from the baker. and lovers. and other cities with Jewish communities. earthly contentment.

as heavy drinking is now understood to threaten health and safety. This causes concern for colleagues. The average stands at approximately 60 liters (15. tannery workers. and religious significance contribute to the importance of wine. Some are lighter and simpler in flavor. the national beverage. having less sugar. and vice versa. taking them separately. or less than one glass each day. Today. each brings out the tastes and textures of the other to best advantage. Although only one in four French men and women regularly drinks wine. old drinking traditions have not disappeared. Tradition and experiment suggest rules of thumb for pairing wine and food. and others sweeter. it is essential to the culture of the table. economic. and balanced—and as enjoyable as possible.75 gallons) of wine per person each year. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. and wine is integrated into meals.44 Food Culture in France Historical. For an everyday meal. It is one of the components that contributes to making a meal complete—structured. Wine sets off food. harmonious. Dry Champagne marries well . although combinations ultimately depend on personal preference. others richer and more complex. The individual flavor and character of each wine derives from the grapes as well as from the production processes. wine is drunk undiluted but in smaller quantities. Some wines are dryer. Alcoholic beverages generally are always accompanied by food. A separate wine for each course is de rigueur for formal and celebration meals. people drink water and wine. diluting wine with water is now quite rare.

and Monbazillac pair with foie gras or with a salty appetizer at the beginning of a meal. They have invented succulent dishes that use all parts of animals slaughtered for meat. Both whites and reds are used for flavoring. It raises more than enough for its own population. the trend is to drink better quality wines. period. Standards and methods of production vastly improved throughout the twentieth century. France is the foremost producer of meat in the European Union. Dry white wines accompany fish or seafood to good effect. and charcuterie. simple preparations. Concerns for health are causing perceptible shifts in this pattern. leaving only the flavor (and color. most people simply purchase inexpensive bottles along with the rest of the groceries. there are few vegetarians in France. Fruit macerated or soaked in wine acquires tenderness as well as flavor. French cooks have the reputation of being creative and frugal. On average. After a piece of meat is sautéed in a pan. wine is a cooking medium for meat stews and bean dishes. Although wine drinking overall has declined. wasting nothing. the consumption of fine wines has doubled. if red). each person eats 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of meat yearly. The alcohol cooks off. . Red wines that are light in character complement chicken dishes. They are best drunk within at most a few months. although for the moment the trend to eat significantly less meat occurs largely at the highest rungs of the economic ladder. veal. ingenious and resourceful. any Muscat. MEAT In today’s affluent society. such as red meats and cheese. although the modern lifestyle prefers fast. Today. wine forms a marinade. wine is poured in over high heat to deglaze the pan and mix with the meat juices to form a sauce. consumption of la viande (meat) is high. Cooking assigns wine a large number of tasks. Full-bodied red wines from Burgundy. In larger amounts.Major Foods and Ingredients 45 with just about anything and may be drunk throughout an entire meal. only slightly behind Australians (110 kilograms or 242 pounds yearly) and Americans (105 kilograms or 231 pounds) as the biggest consumers of meat in the world. The gut-searing piquette of days past has practically disappeared. even the cheapest vin ordinaire (everyday wine) tends to be of decent quality. improving over a long. and Languedoc set off sturdy or rich savory foods. but imports to meet the large demand for cuts such as steaks and roasts. Of course. Bordeaux. These are the exceptional wines that mature and develop over time (measured in years). Sweet white wines such as Sauternes. Poured cold over fruit or berries. Since 1975. Meat is the centerpiece for most main meals. although finite. Such bottles are not meant to be kept or aged after bottling.

stews cooked in an earthenware pot with a conical cover and a hole in the top like a chimney through which the steam escapes. such as Moroccan tagines. sometimes a raw egg is broken over the tartare. and . pickles. date the consumption of horse to prehistoric times. frying. stewing. Nearly all methods of cooking are used for beef: boiling. Large quantities of horse bones at Upper Pleistocene sites at Solutré. as the practice was associated with pagan rituals. Thin steaks are accompanied by fried potatoes for steak-frites. mushrooms. then served cut in squares. a roasted gigot d’agneau (leg of lamb) is the favorite celebration or Sunday meal. Cheval (horse). Cuts of veal are roasted. grilled. ground beef is arranged in a baking pan between two layers of potatoes mashed with milk. sautéed. leaving only the concentrated flavors of the dish. Venison. Tastes do not run to well-cooked steaks. Fattier cuts of beef are cut into small chunks or cubes. much of it imported from the United States. rather than red. or à point (medium rare). flavored with red wine and orange peel. Thicker steaks are eaten bleu (“blue. French butchering practices differ from American. including chopped onion. sautéing. In the early Christian era. or beef stew with Burgundy. and parsley. according to preference. and broiling. Horse. Overcooking dries out the meat. The delicate. Two popes. and racks (with bones in) for roasting. Potau-feu combines several types of meat for a rich boiled dinner. Before horses were domesticated. Gregory III in 732. mustard. braising. bacon.” rare). The cuts of meat are more numerous and smaller. is eaten on a smaller scale than in the past. saignant (“bloody. or stewed. highly flavored condiments. and Goat Studded with garlic and perfumed with rosemary. eating horse was frowned upon. capers. The dish is baked. salt. Provençal boeuf en daube. the preferred hunting method was to drive large numbers of them off the edge of a cliff. and boeuf Bourguignon. then cooked slowly to make stews. sweet-tasting raw meat is garnished with pungent. and small onions. pepper. grilling. in Burgundy. Veal is considered white meat. are typical regional dishes.” quite rare). because of its color. Lamb gives chops. meat for stewing. ruining the flavor as well as the texture. For hachis parmentier (shepherd’s pie). Lamb. Beef or horse chopped up and eaten raw is tartare. It features in recipes adopted from the cuisines of France’s former colonies. roasting.46 Food Culture in France Beef and Veal Most boeuf (beef) comes from the powerful white Charolais cows originally used as draft animals or from cows formerly bred for milk: the black-and-white Normande and the Salers from the Auvergne.

A few of the specialized butcher shops remain. including the skin. the taste for charcuterie is general. Lard. Horse is darker red than beef. primarily in stewed and braised dishes. Lardons are strips or cubes of pork back fat or lean salt pork that are seasoned. is indispensable. It is prepared like good-quality beef. such as chopped raw and garnished in tartare or cooked as steaks and cutlets. and productivity would rise. and flavorful. chops. added to stews. The range of charcuterie—cured and cooked preparations primarily from pork—testifies to the ingenuity of generations of butchers and charcutiers. Horse enjoyed a short-lived rise in popularity after the mad cow scares of the 1990s. and vegetables. on the principle that it would improve the diet of the laboring classes. In the past. Chevreau (kid) is eaten in the South in the early spring. farm-raised sanglier (boar. some preparations are marked with the AOC (Controlled Denomination of Origin). smoking and drying preserved meat that could not be consumed right away and must be stored against hunger. In 1808. meaty fresh bacon. pork takes to processing through salting. especially in the Paris region and in the Northeast toward Belgium. Pieds de porc (trotters. then tucked into a roast. steaks. enrich soups and stews. Their interdictions affected consumption throughout Europe. More than any other meat. or pickled. or boucherie hippophagique. Small pieces flavor omelets. the food writer Grimod de la Reynière praised the pig as “encyclopedic” and a “generous animal. stews. A cochon de lait (suckling pig) is roasted whole. the government promoted horsemeat. and then fried or baked. Today. The dictum Tout est bon dans le cochon (Everything from the pig is good) echoes this observation. In a historically rural country. any horsemeat that was available was cheap because it was unpopular. fillets. and dried sausages. Today. and pan-fried to add to . charcuterie was food for the poor. and pickling. In 1866.Major Foods and Ingredients 47 Zaccharias in 751. and garnish salads. pigs’ feet) are braised. and ribs. it was a mark of prosperity to be able to keep a pig. forbade eating horsemeat.”2 He meant that nearly every part is edible. lean. which would be slaughtered for its meat. By the nineteenth century. Chèvre (goat) is eaten on Corsica. the first boucherie chevaline. drying. Whereas the wealthy could afford freshly slaughtered meat. potatoes. sausages. Chevreuil (venison) is available in markets and on restaurant menus in the form of steaks. wild pig) is also cooked using similar methods as for pork. Pork and Charcuterie Porc (pork) is relatively inexpensive and served in roasts. In the 1850s. opened in Paris. smoking.

Rillettes are served sliced into rounds and spread on crusty bread or toast to accompany an apéritif such as a glass of dry white wine. professor. native to Tours. Braised in fat. marinated. unctuous texture. wrote an offal feast into his novel Gargantua (1534): Les tripes furent copieuses. mass. or steaks and roasts. Les abats are the rest: organ meats. Ham is eaten as an appetizer. and none have a sweet coating on the outside. such as whole peppercorns. Offal In defiance of mathematics. It is double-cooked: lightly poached. creamy. although the choice pieces—calf livers. boiled and smoked. and brains—were often reserved for feasts or celebrations. and other spices that flavor them. Merguez are spiced beef or lamb sausages of North African origin. Andouille or andouillettes is chitterling sausage. whereas saucisses sèches or saucissons secs (dry or salamitype sausages) need only to be sliced. pepper. or sliced into an omelet or quiche. Dry. Saucisses de Morteau. and gullet. Offal has always been the cheapest meat. derive from the two forequarters and hindquarters. and crisp. glands. boiling sausages. Some hearty stews are based on chunks of fresh ham. soaked. made of pig intestines and stomach that are cleaned. Bits of pink ham and chopped bright green parsley are molded in clear aspic to make colorful. rich. Franç ois Rabelais. is a finely textured pork sausage made from bits of the belly. are a staple. like the Italian treatment of prosciutto. lardons are served to accompany a before-dinner drink. and is purplish-black in color. the meat breaks down into a smooth. the enormous. oily texture and a sharp flavor from the salt. the feet. French hams are less salty than American. lumpy Jésus de Morteau was originally a Christmas sausage. outstanding when cooked on a grill. then pan-fried. kidneys. Dry sausages have a firm. The “noble” cuts. as part of a light lunch. pale. the head. Saucisses or fresh sausages require cooking before being consumed. It appears in the spectacular cold preparation jambon persillé from Burgundy. are recognized by their seal and a tiny wooden peg tied into the end of the sausage. and scribbler. Boudin noir (blood sausage) is coagulated beef or pig blood. chewy texture and a swirly appearance from the strips that compose it. jewel-like slices. comme entendez. salty hams sliced paper-thin are eaten with figs and slices of melon. butchers call les abats (offal) the cinquième quartier (fifth quarter) of a slaughtered animal. Sliced andouille has a firm. with vegetables and spices added for flavor. Rillettes.48 Food Culture in France salads. and then cooked. salty. smoked. It has a soft. . the priest turned physician. Whole green pistachios may add sweetness and crunch to a hunter’s venison sausage. Richly fatty. Jambons (hams). shoulder.

delicate foie de veau (calf liver) is coated with a minimal dusting of flour. it is a boiled dish that gives both soup and a main course from the meat. then rolled before cooking. i. and dinde or dindon (turkey) are eaten. as it is large and firm.Major Foods and Ingredients 49 et tant friandes estoient que chacun en leichoit ses doigtz (“The tripe was so copious and so luscious. tripe acquires an apple flavor from cider or Calvados. Cooked à la mode de Caen. although domestic demand increases for organic and free-range birds. lemon. red-crested coq gaulois or Gallic cock that is the symbol of France is a Bresse fowl and has the AOC. Duck is considered dark or red meat. however. Most birds are raised on industrial chicken farms. and it is served with the breast done slightly rare and pink. France exports more poulet (chicken) than any other country in the world. they are fricasseed or braised. Rognons de veau (calf kidneys) have the finest texture and flavor. . also called. and coeur de boeuf (beef heart) are eaten. or wine. then gently sautéed in butter. and a tender texture from slow braising. Chapon (capon). Cut into pieces. vinegar. oie (goose). Elegant suprême de poulet is a chicken breast stuffed with vegetables sliced very fine. but butchers and supermarkets sell offal.. sometimes as brochettes (grilled on skewers). Whole chickens are roasted to a golden brown. The blue-footed. they are sold with head and feet intact. then fried or sautéed. and pork liver is used in pâté. The langue (tongue) from a cow. white-feathered. canard (duck). Tripes (tripe or stomach) have a honey-comblike appearance. Gras double is beef tripe that is cleaned. that everyone licked their fingers”). Beef kidney requires braising. cooked. Livers are also grilled.e. and ready to eat. then garnished with a red wine sauce. faisan (pheasant). pintade (Guinea fowl). Like the beef pot-au-feu. or lamb is boiled or braised. or lightly stewed or braised with a sauce such as tomato and red wine. calf. Pale. Tête de veau (calf’s head) is carefully boned so that the features are maintained. Beef and lamb offal further features in the East European and North African Jewish and Muslim cuisines that enrich French cooking. Lamb or calf cervelles (brains) are marinated. Poule-au-pot (“chicken in the pot”) is a favorite dish for a weekend meal. turkey is in demand year round. The game birds caille (quail). frivolités). but pork and lamb kidneys are eaten as well. Ris de veau (sweetbreads. There are few specialist tripiers these days. pigeonneau (squab). metaphorically. traditionally overnight. then served with a sauce having a strong acidic component from tomatoes. animelles (testicles. Poultry and Rabbit La volaille (poultry) is a versatile basic. the thymus gland and sometimes the pancreas). Turkey and goose are fare for the Christmas season.

before refrigeration. are often sold already barded or wrapped with strips of bacon or salt pork that melt during cooking. but the wild animals are fair game for amateur hunters. and Romans ate foie gras d’oie or fattened goose liver3. Civet de lapin is rabbit stew flavored with red wine and thickened with the rabbit’s blood or with pig blood. rabbit and hare are farmed. The tradition was long associated with Jewish communities in Metz and Strasbourg. mixtures of foie gras and fats resemble pâtés. vegetables. melting texture. Whole lobes are considered higher quality. It is eaten hot or cold. Today. large sections from different livers that are lightly pressed together are less expensive. Plump geese and ducks raised for foie gras can be cooked and then stored in their own fat. then sold jarred or canned. and bécassine (snipe) are considered special treats. Most foie gras now comes from several departments in the Southwest. Geese lack a gag reflex. More frequently they are cooked first. which tend to dry out. The traditional combination of foie gras with truffles is considered the ultimate indulgence. The rendered fat prevents the meat from coming into contact with air. bécasse (woodcock). as kosher dietary laws permitted eating fowl. French household manuals from as early as the sixteenth century give explicit instructions for fostering grand foie (“big liver”) in geese4 through gavage (force-feeding with grain). Goose . ducks are given the same treatment as the geese. both the meat prepared in this fashion and the flavors of the fats are much appreciated. Some fresh livers are sold raw to be cooked at home. The small birds. The resulting fat is stored primarily in their livers. Today. Rabbit responds especially well to moist cooking such as a braise. Foie gras and Confit d’oie The Egyptians. The association derives from the practice of keeping chickens and rabbits in proximity in a basse-cour (farmyard). usually as an appetizer or first course.50 Food Culture in France perdrix (partridge). giving a distinctive unctuous feel on the tongue and a dark color. making confit was essential for storing the meat. for confit d’oie or confit de canard (preserved goose or duck). and it is used in cooking. It pairs with jellies and with fortified or sweet wines. Phoenicians. Good foie gras is pink and firm and has a clean-looking shine. so they can swallow about a cup of grain at a time if it is gently funneled into their throats. which enlarge and develop the characteristic silky. At this point the foie gras requires no further cooking. Goose fat lends outstanding flavor when used to pan-fry potatoes. and omelets. Hot preparations of foie gras are in fact heated just enough to bring out the flavors and texture. Lapin (rabbit) and lièvre (hare) are sold with poultry.

In the South. baked. and whites are beaten up into meringues. Eggs are scrambled.Major Foods and Ingredients 51 or duck fat flavors cassoulet. industrial fishing has exhausted natural populations. short pastry filled with savory custard flavored with ham or smoked bacon. the hearty stew associated with the towns of Castelnaudary. duck. yolks are used in custards. and black pepper. and stuffed. goose. softboiled. Creamy fish and seafood soups including bisques are popular in the Atlantic region. the term egg refers automatically to a chicken egg. hard boiled. The combination of pork rinds. Traditionally. every bouillabaisse cook claims an authentic and superior recipe. which have supplied very little fish since the mid-twentieth century. EGGS Les oeufs (eggs) are made into innumerable dishes for lunch and dinner. round frittatas heavy with vegetables or potatoes are sliced into wedges like a cake for a summer meal. tomatoes) and herbs. Cultivated fish further lack the flavor and texture of their wild counterparts. and waste and toxins pollute fishing waters. grated cheese. FISH Home cooks prepare poisson (fish) and fruits de mer (seafood) less frequently than they do meat because the cooking is perceived as difficult or delicate. The international trade networks and the use of freezers make most kinds of fish and shellfish available year round.5 As in many coastal countries. or lamb with haricots blancs (navy beans) is baked in a slow oven. and quail. The same is true for France’s rivers. people order nearly as much fish as meat. Carcassonne. by contrast. Most interpretations involve a base of vegetables (onions. Farm fishing adds to the supply but stresses the environment. fried. poached. the exact number is a matter of debate among cooks and members of one of the gastronomic confréries (brotherhoods or associations) that is devoted to cassoulet. the brown crust must be punched into the pot seven or eight times during baking. they are not eaten at breakfast. Hard boiled eggs are combined with vegetables and a sturdy sauce to make a main dish. nutmeg. poached eggs are garnished with a clear sauce such as a red wine reduction for oeufs en meurette. In restaurants. garlic. Eggs appear as omelets and soufflés and in quiche Lorraine. Bouillabaisse is a Provenç al specialty from the Côte d’Azur. although markets and farm stands sell eggs from geese. flat. As in the United States. and Toulouse. As with any great dish that is widely loved. an elegant entrée. to which stock . Eggs are essential in baking cakes and pastries. ducks.

fresh mayonnaise flavored with crushed garlic. and shellfish. or steamed. exceptionally.52 Food Culture in France or water is added. because of the unusual firmness of the flesh. herbs. thon (tuna). Bourride. The silky. broiled. never sold whole. Quenelles are light-textured fish dumplings that are poached and sauced. are anguille (eel). frying and smoking feature in fish cookery. sometimes an egg yolk is added to make the sauce richer. some with stuffings made of finely chopped vegetables. strongly flavored . the fish dramatically curls and splits. another fish soup. sprinkled with lemon juice and chopped parsley. For rouille. as well as main dishes. Raie (skate. ray) gives triangular ailes (wings). In the South. chilies or cayenne pepper. lacks tomatoes but contains mussels along with white fish such as cabillaud (cod) and lotte (monkfish). The flatfish turbot (turbot) and sole (sole) are among the finest fish eaten. imported Atlantic salmon is what is usually eaten. carrelet (plaice). and loaf-shaped terrines are based on fish that is ground to a smooth paste then mixed with seasonings. but rather poached. scorpion fish) is the cornerstone. Other fish that feature in soups and sauces. salt. meaty flesh and no bones. merlan (whiting). They have inspired numerous preparations. brochet (pike). Finefleshed truite (trout) appears in classic preparations such as au bleu. the sauce that takes its color from cayenne pepper. It is common to add a few fennel seeds and a shot of anise-flavored liquor such as pastis or some white wine. Rascasse (Mediterranean rockfish. Saffron gives color and flavor. It is served with toast and aïoli. dumplings. lotte (monkfish) is. it is the only fish that is rolled and tied into roasts. and. moist flesh has long. Rouille is spread on toast or stirred by the spoonful directly into the soup. baked. carpe (carp). and spiny-scaled grondin (gurnard). but always beheaded. daurade (bream). and pepper. It is eaten in stews. Trout cooked au bleu is poached in spiced. grilled. Because of its famously hideous appearance. Savory mousses. herbed cooking liquid acidulated with vinegar. followed by several kinds of fish and shellfish. as well. and merlu (hake). It has flavorful. unless very large. Oursinade is fish soup served with sea urchins and a creamy mixture of egg yolks and butter. Fish soups are accompanied by a red-brown rouille (“rust”). olive oil is beaten into a mashed potato or some bread crumbs. and drizzled with browned butter. then flavored with mashed fresh garlic. Other fish added according to preference include loup de mer or bar (sea bass). Saint-Pierre (John Dory). Bourride is pale in color and enriched with cream. In a successful au bleu. rouget or barbet (mullet). delicate flakes and is best treated with the utmost simplicity. Fish with the best texture and flavor is not disguised in soup. Fish cooked à la meunière is floured and pan fried. Saumon (salmon) has been overfished from the Loire River where it was once plentiful.

The Mediterranean coast provides oursin (sea urchin). Coquilles SaintJacques and pétoncles (large and small scallops) are sold with the smooth orange roe sac attached to the white cylinder of flesh. While living on the Côte d’Azur. Stockfisch (dried salted cod) is soaked in water or milk to rehydrate it and reduce the salt. an echinoderm having a porcupine-like exterior but yellow-orange lobes that are buttery in texture and sweetly briny. Larger than shrimp but smaller than lobster in size. such as in creamy bisques. The Mediterranean cephalopods are popular quickly fried and served with slices of lemon. then broiled or served as fillets with green salad. Crustaceans such as crevettes (shrimp) from the North Atlantic. Accras (Caribbean fried codfish balls) have become a popular appetizer and are purchased freshly made from caterers. silky huîtres (oysters) and palourdes (clams) are eaten raw on the half-shell and cooked. then baked. langoustines (Dublin Bay prawns) and langoustes (crayfish) appear in cold and in hot preparations. Pablo Picasso painted the picture Le Gobeur d’oursins (1946) showing a happy eater gobbling (gober) down this delicacy directly from the shell. Calmars or encornets (squid) are also stuffed. firm-fleshed poulpe (octopus) is cut into . The moules are steamed open in a broth lightly flavored with tomato. Étrilles (small crabs) lend excellent flavor to soups. milk or cream. but supplies are purchased from elsewhere. intact but still “stuffed” with spawn.Major Foods and Ingredients 53 Mediterranean sardines are fried or else arranged on grape leaves and vine twigs. This becomes the sauce. or else slowly braised. so that the fish absorb the flavor of the vines. then grilled. Hareng bouffi is in fact a whole herring. To eat moules. Herring and maquereau (mackerel). For brandade de morue. Rollmops or herring fillets marinated in vinegar are served cold with boiled potatoes. although ostensibly of Belgian origin. Tourteaux (larger crabs) appear with smaller shellfish and with homard (lobster) on spectacular cold seafood platters. and crevettes grises (tiny North Sea prawns) are often paired with a creamy sauce. the fried potatoes are on the side. Shell fish appear in soups and sauces and in stuffings for larger fish. and salt and pepper. Scallops are quickly seared over high heat or baked in a sauce that is somewhat liquid. Reddish. Harengs (herring) are no longer fished in French waters. This delicacy is lightly salted. are often lightly smoked. the mashed salt cod is mixed with mashed potatoes or bread crumbs. then smoked. both oily fish. people use one of the half-shells as a spoon and scoop out the meat from the other mussels. Moules (mussels) are always cooked. SHELLFISH Mollusks such as briny. moules-frites is a favorite bistro meal.

and a miniature fork with sharp tines to spear the snail. Northerners used graisse de boeuf (suet. Southerners used huile d’olive (olive oil) pressed from the fruit grown in their warmer territories. pork fat) from their animals. then replaced in the shells. smooth texture and a slightly fishy flavor. In the oven. while southerners spoke the langue d’oc. Like fish. Special utensils are used: a rounded tongs to hold the shell steady. plates with round concavities stabilize the shells. cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs) are flown in frozen from China. making a highly flavored sauce that can be sopped up with a piece of bread. Seiches (cuttlefish) are cooked whole. has a deep yellow color and a richly developed . when they were especially popular. For serving. Northerners spoke the langue d’oï l or language of oï l. They are best deep-fried or pan fried.54 Food Culture in France pieces for cold dressed salads or braising. BUTTER AND OIL It used to be possible to distinguish northerners from southerners by the way they said “yes” (oui). so they do not roll. beurre (butter) and other animal fats were to be avoided on fast days. FROGS The grenouilles (frogs) to which the French owe their nickname are indeed widely appreciated. Today. although the Catholic Church granted dispensations to areas where oil was rare and expensive. Snails are most often prepared in the typical Burgundian fashion. the butter melts over the tiny beast.7 The best farmhouse butter.6 The cuisses de grenouille have a silky. Theoretically. associated with the cattle regions of Normandy and Brittany. They are cleaned. they are imported frozen from Turkey. frog legs are served with slices of lemon for garnish. Fresh water lakes were the source for frogs during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. which has a much older tradition of eating frog. which are filled up with butter mashed with chopped herbs and garlic. beef fat) and saindoux (lard. SNAILS In France. mollusks found on land. as in other parts of Europe such as Italy. North was also distinguished from south by the fat used as a cooking medium. mounds dating to Roman times attest the long tradition of eating escargots (snails).

6 kg annually and growing8. Mild-flavored huile de colza (canola or rapeseed oil) and huile de tournesol (sunflower oil) are domestically grown and the most widely used oils for everyday cooking and for making salad dressings and mayonnaise. Milk is drunk plain primarily by infants and children. along with fat-soluble vitamins A and E. hard sausage. and peppery for the green oils. CREAM. the more healthful unsaturated fats predominate over saturated fat (associated with blood cholesterol increase). Fresh milk in France is pasteurized (heat treated at 75–85 degrees C for 15–30 seconds) or sterilized at even higher temperatures. so it is used for deepfrying and pan-frying over high heat. de noisettes (hazelnut). and the nut oils are used in baking. olive oil connoisseurship is on the rise. Hot milk is essential to the breakfast . or cheese. however. degree of acidity. MILK. Butter is spread on bread for a plain tartine and for sandwiches with ham. Olive oil varies in color from bright green to yellow and in flavor from lively. Fats and oils carry fatty acids essential to growth and reproduction. and de noix (walnut) feature in salads and dressings that show off their outstanding taste. By today’s standards. most goat and sheep milk goes into cheese. Average consumption for olive oil is 1. France produces olive oil in the South and imports it from Spain. as well. in the case of cheese. referred to as la cuisine au beurre (butter cuisine). Rarer huile de pépins de raisins (grapeseed oil). preserving milk over time. yesterday’s generous use of butter is considered heavy-handed and old-fashioned.Major Foods and Ingredients 55 flavor. and fruits—France’s local version of the Mediterranean diet. AND YOGURT Lait (milk) and laitages (dairy products) have always been much cheaper than meat. Italy. In liquid vegetable oils. vegetables. to very mild. FRESH CHEESE. and quality of flavor. Milk that is flash-treated at 145 degrees C for UHT (ultra-haute température or ultra-high temperature) sterilization can then be stored at room temperature in sealed tetrapacks until opened. Imported huile d’arachide (peanut oil) is neutral in flavor and has a high smoking point. rich cooking. Huile de palme or de coprah (palm oil) and huile de soja (soy oil) are used in industrial contexts such as making packaged cookies and biscuits. with its greater use of grains. especially olive oil. It is used in cooking and is indispensable in pastry making. Butter is associated with distinguished. while providing protein and. Olive oil is key to Provenç al cooking. fruity. Most milk sold is from cows. Greece. and Turkey. The grades and labels for olive oil reflect the pressing (first or subsequent).

. It has numerous uses in cooking. and baked gratins to give them smoothness and body. purées of vegetables and potatoes. Yaourt or yogourt (yogurt) originated near the Black Sea and the Caucasus. Cheese Fromage (cheese). Goat cheese in a small round disk is called Cabécou. Crème fraîche is slightly fermented. Fromage blanc is eaten as a sweet or a savory. made of sheep’s milk. Cream is beaten into crème Chantilly (whipped cream) and added to soups. and pepper. is a chèvre. akin to sour cream. A dollop garnishes desserts made with slightly acidic cooked fruits and cakes that are on the dry side. is synonymous with France. and sauces. also chicory. to be eaten with bread and wine. humorous reference to its shape. Garnished with chopped chives. People like to joke that the higher a cheese smells. such as hard Cantal and blue-veined Roquefort. crumbly. but simply milk that has been curdled. Aged cheeses develop heady odors. it is dessert. or aged. whether very young and moist. bought plain or sweetened in individually sized containers. were already attested in Roman Gaul.56 Food Culture in France drinks: café au lait (coffee with milk) and hot chocolate. although other descriptors are used. and chicory coffee. the appreciation of cheese is so highly developed that cheese is eaten as a course all its own in a full meal. Most names for cheese refer to the place of origin. Most yogurt is industrial. This is often true. milk is added to soups. it is the cheese course or the basis of a light lunch. a plate of two or three or more cheeses is passed around. or to replace the cheese course. like wine and bread. sauces. and firm. Cheese was vital to store milk. The flat-topped pyramid with a flower of blue mold on the outside is Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. Each person takes a small slice or triangle of the cheeses. Artisanal and farm-house products are usually bought in specialty shops and market cheese stands. To conclude a formal or festive meal. but crottin (a horse or sheep dropping) is an earthy. It is eaten at breakfast. Factory produced cheeses are available in supermarkets. before the fruit or dessert. In cooking. eventually spreading through the Middle East and central Europe. The tiny round Crottin de Chavignol is named after the Loire village. Some types. Fromage blanc is not technically cheese. and some of the worst olfactory offenders are quite mild in flavor. the better it tastes. for a snack. Yogurt has been widely eaten in France only since the 1960s. salt. Sprinkled with sugar and served with fruit. It is the last savory course. Today. Any goat milk cheese. the curds are beaten to create a smooth texture.

These include Brie de Meaux. Blue mold or blue veined cheeses include the Bleus d’Auvergne. and colleagues in Saint-Haon-le-Châtel. its more recently invented relative Camembert. Pressed cheeses for slicing include sweet-pungent Morbier. Grated hard cheese is sprinkled on dishes that are browned in the oven. Mild. creamy Savarin. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact.Major Foods and Ingredients 57 Master cheese maker and affineur (specialist in aging cheese) Hervé Mons with goat milk cheeses. For the softer cheeses. and Munster. which people eat with a sprinkling of caraway seeds. but it must be trimmed off the firm cheeses. is 75 percent fat. goats. which has a blue-gray layer of wood ash across the middle. named for the food-writer and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Tomme de Savoie. Bleu des Causses. the rind is eaten. Semisoft cow milk cheeses with white mold rinds are fromages à croûte fleurie. Red mold cheeses with washed rinds include Époisses. and Roquefort. and Cantal. which becomes practically liquid when ripe and is eaten with a spoon. The family of hard cheeses that includes Gruyère de Comté and Emmental are aged from curds that have gone through an additional cooking process to make them firmer and dryer. Pont-l’Évêque. such as potatoes au gratin and the onion soup famously served at Les . the square Carré de l’Est. and Saint-Marcellin. which can be eaten quite dry.

Sprinkle the additional 1/3 cup of grated cheese on the puffs. salt flats). remove the pan from the heat. Along with proverbs about bread and wine.C. butter. and color of foods. SPICES. buds. thanks in part to the addition of herbs and spices. To make the pâte à choux (puff paste). or else use two tablespoons to drop the batter like cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets. until the gougères are golden brown and puffy. The term spice usually refers to dried bark. Many herbs are native to Europe if not to French territory. and stir it into the liquid. Atlantic salt is harvested from the Île de Ré and the Guérande peninsula. Since about 700 B. HERBS. leaves the side of the pan. and coheres into a ball. one at a time. Grated cheese flavors the light. flavor. roots. using a wooden spoon. Return the pan to low heat. sel (salt) and poivre (pepper) are the most basic spices in French cooking. savory puffs called gougères often served as an appetizer. Serve warm or prick the bottoms with a skewer or sharp-pointed knife to allow the steam to escape and cool on a wire rack. Beat in the eggs. and berries. Burgundian Baked Cheese Puffs (Gougères) • 1 cup water • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter • pinch salt • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour • 4 large eggs • 2/3 cup plus an additional 1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese Preheat the oven to 425° F. Use a pastry bag to squeeze the batter into rings. .58 Food Culture in France Halles marketplace in Paris. and continue to cook until the batter thickens. As in many cuisines. but they are not spicy. AND CONDIMENTS FOR SAVORY COOKING Most any home cook draws judiciously on a selection of mild épices (spices) and herbes (herbs) to vary the texture. and salt in a saucepan. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.E. Mix in the 2/3 cup of grated cheese. The traditional and regional dishes are richly flavored. Remove the pan once again from the heat. Spices are often–although not always–of exotic provenance. When the butter has melted completely.. and bring to the boiling point. salt has been harvested from Breton palus or paludes (marshes. proverbs about salt abound in France as elsewhere. place the water. Add the flour. An herb is usually a leaf. making sure each egg is absorbed before adding the next one.

sausages. salad dressings. warm flavor. Dishes labeled à la diable (deviled) are seasoned with mustard. This is used in light-colored dishes such as mashed potatoes and cream sauces. Rustic. It goes into sauces including vinaigrette (oil and vinegar dressing). Removing the external coating of black peppercorns leaves white pepper. It serves as a cooking medium and to deglaze the pan for meat and fish sauces. is also used. Moutarde (mustard). Historically. It imparts a yellow-orange color and a clean. especially any made with fish. is ubiquitous in the kitchen and on the table. Vinegar is a key condiment and cooking ingredient. Mustard is a condiment for boiled meats. . Whole black peppercorns stud dried sausages. old-style mustard has in it brownish bits of hull as well as crushed seed. whose heat sets off the fruit.Major Foods and Ingredients 59 and Mediterranean salt comes from Aigues-Mortes. Coarser sea salts still gray from the presence of marine minerals or flecked with seaweed add a decorative touch along with their special flavors to finished dishes. then pickled in brine to avoid discoloration. and omelets. Bright red threads of safran (saffron). or a sausage may be coated with a crunchy hot layer of cracked peppercorns. Muscat (nutmeg) and macis (mace) are added to cooked vegetables and sweet egg dishes such as custards. the dried stigmas and styles (female organs) from the Crocus sativus. cinnamon or dried ground ginger. Common refined fleur de sel (kitchen salt) is what most people keep on hand for cooking and for table use. They balance rich elements such as butter or cream to make sauces for meats. and marinades. pickles. made by the same process. like vinegar. then blended with spices and vinegar to form a pungent mixture. and cloves that flavors pâtés and meat dishes. salt was vital to preserve meat. Most vinaigre (vinegar. from vin aigre. is sprinkled into fish soups and added to baked goods. nutmeg. Quatre épices (four spices) is a standard combination of white pepper. Saffron adds color to egg glazes for pastry and to butter used in fish and chicken dishes. and it is made from hotter red-brown seeds. It flavors sauces. Green peppercorns are picked before they are ripe. sour wine) is made from wine that is fermented so that the alcohol converts to acetic acid. Smooth Dijon mustard is made from milder yellow seeds. The seeds are crushed or ground. cold cuts. grainy. White pepper is more common in the kitchen than on the eating table. and glazes and dressings for oven-bound dishes such as rabbit or chicken. and it is used this way in charcuterie. sweet summer fruits such as figs and pears are cooked with pepper. In the Southwest. Cider vinegar. Clou de girofle (clove) spices winter fruit compotes.

Minced échalottes (shallots) add zest to green salads. and herbed mayonnaise. in pistou (pesto) for stirring into vegetable and bean soups. Chopped sautéed oignons (onions) combine with carrot and celery as the basis for many dishes. and ciboulette (chives). garlic is ubiquitous in the cooking of the South.60 Food Culture in France Carvi (caraway seed). SHALLOTS. and lavande (lavender). Along with tomatoes and olive oil. and caramelized makes confit or savory jam that accompanies meat dishes. composed of fresh minced persille (parsley). AND LEEKS The Allium genus is all-important for French cooking. and thyme is used in fish dishes. and olive oil. and whole unpeeled gousses (garlic cloves) accompany chicken roasting in the oven. salt. Curly-leaf parsley appears in the North. Bouquet garni includes sprigs of parsley. Cooking onions very slowly until they are sweet. thym (thyme). the flat-leaf variety is typical in the South. cerfeuil (chervil). Coriandre (coriander seed) is paired with meat. GARLIC. poaching liquids. Basil is the primary flavor. salted anchovies. marjolaine (marjoram). Sauge (sage) flavors pork and game. By itself. and they are the principal ingredient in soupe à l’ognion (onion soup). this and a salad of braised leeks with vinaigrette dressing are . It flavors roasts and chops as well as chicken destined for baking. go into omelets. laurier (bay leaf). and pots of vegetables to lend flavor in cooking. Standard combinations of herbs flavor many dishes. The herbs are tied together. thyme. sauces. native to southern Europe. and sometimes sarriette (savory) and romarin (rosemary). Tarragon flavors lamb and chicken and goes into sauces. tarragon. soft. salad dressings. Persillade is finely chopped parsley and either shallots or garlic added to a hot dish just before the cooking is done. along with crushed garlic. then dropped into broths. Fines herbes. estragon (tarragon). and genièvre (juniper berry) flavors game and pork. savory. Vichyssoise is leek and potato soup. ONIONS. associated with German and Scandinavian cooking. is the principal flavoring for pastis and is used in fish dishes and southern pastries. Anis (anise seed). and it is added to southern sauces with a tomato base. A feuille de laurier (bay leaf) is added to marinades and to pots of beans and lentils. it tops Provençal pissaladière (onion pizza). Poireaux (leeks) flavor soups and sometimes appear in a bouquet garni used for soup. Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs that may include rosemary. parsley is essential in cooking and as a raw garnish. flavored with mashed. basilique (basil). is used in pickling and is served with Munster cheese. Ail (garlic) is roasted.

The exception is Alsatian nouilles (egg noodles). and vegetables are all common components. is added at table as a sauce. RICE.9 Today. pâtes (pasta) seem to have been made in France by northern Jews as early as the eleventh century and in Provence within the next 200 years. and Marseille. A typical Moroccan couscous combines lamb. and Algeria. Semolina flour (from hard wheat) and water make a paste that traditionally was rubbed between the hands into tiny balls. Later. the most common preparations. eaten in the former colonies of Tunisia. crushed garlic. seafood. Ciboulette (chive) is used both raw and cooked.Major Foods and Ingredients 61 Braised leeks accompany poached fish. and chickpeas. greens. pasta were made using hard or durum wheat flour in Paris. Pasta and noodles are most often boiled and eaten as a side dish for meats. and olive oil). as an herb. turnips. has become a typical dish. pumpkin. fish. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. the stew is then served with the steamed pasta. onions. Couscous. cumin. an innovation from the Rhineland. but the shapes borrow from the Italian traditions. more or less diluted with hot water or broth. Clermont-Ferrand. GRAINS. most pâtes eaten in France are made within the country. PASTA. AND POTATOES Of Italian origin. carrots. coriander. Couscous steams in the fragrant vapors coming up off a stew whose ingredients vary: lamb. Morocco. Spicy Tunisian harissa (a paste of red pepper. Sweet couscous prepared .

More interestingly. Shortgrained or Arborio rices are made into desserts such as gâteau de riz (rice cake) and puddings. or bulgur. a powder ground from the grain. Orge (barley). and spices. Corn is eaten as flakes in cereal. Blé noir or sarrasin (buckwheat). and it has come back into fashion among bakers of organic and whole-grain breads. and melted butter to make a . New World maïs (corn) has been adopted in a very limited fashion. is the key ingredient for the dark crêpes associated with that region. water. Long-grained rice is used in cold salads and in side dishes for meat. borrows the Italian tradition of making polente (polenta) out of cornmeal. Épeautre (spelt) goes into Provenç al soups. is made into tabbouleh. cultivated in Brittany. cider. and flavorings such as rosewater is a festive dessert. melted Mix or pulse to blend together in a blender or food processor the flours and salt. is now little used in cooking. Seigle (rye) is used in bread-making and in a few sweet baked goods. and now nearly all is imported. although cream of barley. Breton Buckwheat Crêpes (Galettes bretonnes or galettes de sarrasin) • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour • 1 cup all-purpose flour • pinch salt • 4 large eggs • 1 1/4 cups apple cider • 1 1/4 cups milk • 1/4 cup water • 1/4 cup unsalted butter. chopped parsley. Dried industrial couscous is available. raisins. scallions. the Lebanese salad with olive oil. formerly part of the Italian Piedmont. and related preparations appear in Basque cooking. tomato. cucumber. Nice.62 Food Culture in France with nuts. used in making ale and then beer. Add eggs. lemon juice. and canned corn added to cold salads. The word couscous refers both to the pasta and to the finished dish. Riz (rice) was cultivated in the wet Camargue region from the seventeenth century through the mid-twentieth century. thickens soups and boiled dishes. Cracked wheat. milk. Many people have a couscoussier or couscous steamer in their home kitchens. Rice consumption has more than tripled since the 1970s. as corn is still thought of primarily as animal fodder. such as spice breads. and people do steam it alone (without making the stew) to eat as they would pasta of Italian origin.

Most potatoes presently cultivated and eaten in France are the BF 15. potatoes) were first introduced. Let the batter stand for one hour. then pour in batter to thinly coat the pan (about 1/3 cup of batter for a 12-inch pan). Serve hot. Swirl the pan to spread the batter over the bottom of the pan and up its sides (if using a crêpe pan). 63 When exotic New World pommes de terre (“earth apples.e. Briefly blend or mix the batter once more. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. Potatoes are sliced and baked. No matter what the preparation. Cook about a minute. Heat a crêpe pan or large flat saucepan until very hot.” i. Turn the crêpe out flat onto a plate or board. Makes about 15 crêpes. Fold it in quarters or turn in the edges to make a square.Major Foods and Ingredients thin batter. Brush lightly with butter. until the crêpe is brown on the bottom and at the edges and set firm in the middle. pan-fried. and Ratte varieties. covered. Now it is difficult to imagine French cooking without them. or refrigerate overnight. Pommes frites (French fries or fried potatoes) are popular.. . sautéed. but always removed before cooking or just before serving. they were viewed with great suspicion. the peel is not eaten. Boiled or steamed potatoes are eaten in salads or tossed with butter. Purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes) is served as a side dish Peeling potatoes for cooking. Bintje. and added to stews and soups. with a filling or plain.

flatter. Chickpeas go into couscous and salads. Today. green Puys lentils are used in salads and served with salmon. Fresh green and white beans at the Place des Halles market in Dijon. Potatoes are a mainstay of student cafeterias and other industrial restaurants. cocos. Eaten in combination with grain. whose flavorful juices they absorb. Tiny. Pulses are the edible seeds of pod-bearing plants cultivated for food. or dried in powder for purée. and lingots (dried white beans) combine with meat in rich stews such as garbure and cassoulet and marry well with cream and tomatoes. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. sliced. Lentils and split peas are often combined with pork. Haricots blancs. Pois chiches (chickpeas) and fèves (fava beans) were particularly important in the southern regions. sausages. firm. légumes à gousses (pulses) were staples. Dried green beans called haricots verts and chevriers go with lamb. or bacon for flavor. PULSES In the past. larger. peas and beans provide complete proteins that contribute to a healthy diet with little meat or none at all. . where they are usually bought frozen and already peeled. prepared for cooking.64 Food Culture in France and may be further elaborated into fried croquettes (puffs). pulses usually accompany meat or fish as a separate course or side dish. pale green and yellow varieties go into soups and purées.

or puréed. Narrowly sliced into a chiffonnade (ribbons). rather than raw. which is often cooked with olive oil. Salsify or oyster plant (salsifis) is cooked with butter. Horseradish also garnishes boiled meat dishes like pot-au-feu. added to soups and stews. and raisins as in other areas of the Mediterranean. The bulbous. as well. They also appear in some cooked dishes. Épinards (spinach) are usually served cooked. carrots form a vegetable course. In the sweet version of tourte aux blettes (chard tart). Steamed. rhizomes. Curly-leafed chou de Savoie or chou frisé (Savoy cabbage) is stuffed. Greens such as sour oseille (sorrel) and spicy dark green cresson (watercress) add color and flavor to soups and sauces. mashed. flowers.Major Foods and Ingredients 65 VEGETABLES The term légume (vegetable) as used in everyday speech covers several botanical groups: roots. tender. such as braised with lettuce and peas. except when grated and dressed as part of a platter of crudités (composed salad of raw vegetables—a colorful mosaic). Vegetables are eaten in savory preparations as side dishes and as individual courses of a main meal. or a salade composée “composed” from whatever is at hand and attractively arranged on a flat plate. and braised. or meat juice from whatever it will accompany. Grated betteraves (beets) also appear served in discrete. associated with Alsatian cooking. young leaves appear in salads. dressed with mustard vinaigrette or with cream. although very small. forbidding-looking céleri-rave (celery root or celeriac) is appreciated for its warm celery flavor and versatility. leaves. and the vegetable is then cut into chunks. Among the root vegetables. hairy. and they are prominent in soups and stews. The giant. cooked pulses such as lentils tossed with vinaigrette and some sliced onion. and made into a purée or soup. Small red and white radis (radishes) are dipped in salt and eaten raw along with bread and butter. Once it is scrubbed under running water. braised in milk. and even fruits such as the tomate (tomato). They feature in sturdy winter soups and stews to which navets (turnips) are usually added. sorrel lends its lemony tang to eggs and fish. carottes (carrots) are eaten cooked. as well. which may be a plain tossed lettuce mixture. pine nuts. cream. The composed salads often include cooked vegetables and pieces of cheese or meat. Provence’s characteristic vegetable is chard. tempestuous raifort (horseradish) is grated and tempered with crème fraîche or unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish for smoked fish. sometimes garnished with morsels of hot lard. Raw celery root is grated. and served with slices of salty dry ham. from . the outer rind is trimmed. The French are masters of the salad. individually dressed mounds on the plate of crudités. Chou (white cabbage) is eaten salted or pickled as choucroute (sauerkraut).

lemon. Romaine. Classical cooking gives methods for cooking concombre (cucumber). Fennel stalks and leaves are . The sweet hearts are braised in water. Haricots verts (fresh green beans. Céleri (celery) is blanched. when their cool crunch refreshes the palate. with the Provenç al dressing of olive oil. and sliced. then dressed with a rich sauce such as hollandaise (based on butter and egg yolks) or served à la bagna cauda. A head of lettuce is often referred to simply as une salade (a salad). and a dash of Parmesan cheese make a custard that balances the flavor and texture of the vegetable. minced garlic. Most often the whole vegetable is steamed or blanched and served hot under a béchamel sauce with ham. A few classic preparations call for cooked or braised lettuce. Fresh laitues (lettuces) mean green salad to most people. They are boiled in salted water. or cornette (chicory or curly endive). It is also braised or blanched to be eaten cooked. alongside boiled meats. it is most often eaten raw. larger ones are cooked whole then served with a vinaigrette or melted butter and lemon as a sauce for dipping the leaves. or green leaf lettuce is tossed with oil-and-vinegar dressing that may be emulsified with mustard or flavored with a sliver of garlic or a spoonful of minced shallot. Classic simple preparations flavor the peas with a small quantity of sugar. Stalky cardes (cardoons) are cooked like artichoke hearts. and peppery roquette (rocket or arugula). braised. Fleshy fenouil (fennel bulb) is sliced raw to eat with lemon or with a full-fledged dressing for a salad. and it is an ingredient in some tomato sauces. and anchovy. powdered sugar. or French beans) are a favorite vegetable across the country. eggs. Tiny artichauts (artichokes) are eaten raw with salt. then served with butter alongside roasted or grilled meat. Raw endive leaves add a silky crunch to salad. France is the biggest producer in the world of compact.66 Food Culture in France Nice. Bibb-type lettuce. composed salads appear now on restaurant menus as first courses or on full-sized plates as a main dish. seeded. Petits-pois (fresh green peas) came into fashion in the seventeenth century and have remained popular ever since. pale yellow endives (Belgian endive). mâche (corn salad or lamb’s lettuce). escarole. It is dressed with olive oil and lemon in a salade grècque (Greek salad) with tomatoes or else sauced with cream and chives or mint. Other popular salad greens include scarole. or in a blanc or white cooking liquid consisting of boiling water and a bit of flour. however. and olive oil. grated apple. They combine with other vegetables in composed salads and appear in soups and purées. Green salads are served after the main dish in a full meal. For plain green salad. and served with tomato sauce or meat marrow. then add mint and butter or lettuce and cream. string beans. as in combination with peas. lemon juice.

dry Mediterranean climate of the South. and usually requires peeling. often served with a creamy or eggy sauce such as hollandaise. carrots. Cooked chou-fleur (cauliflower) appears boiled or steamed in composed salads. It is usually converted to purée or made into a cream soup. The aubergine (eggplant). but it has a mild flavor. or with vinaigrette dressing. Indian eggplant was introduced to Spain during the Middle Ages by the Moors and from there made its way to Italy and France. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. the florettes are fried. The vegetable is thick. Asparagus are steamed or boiled.Major Foods and Ingredients 67 Everyday vegetables in inviting profusion: lettuce. None are native. but all flourish in the warm. Eggplant is roasted then diced into cold salads. placed under fish that is grilling to give it flavor. is preferred over green. and courgette (zucchini) are workhorses in the French kitchen. most often it is par-boiled then baked au gratin with milk or cream and grated cheese. White asperge (asparagus). Chou-fleur d’Italie or broccoli (broccoli) made its way to France from Italy and is still somewhat less common than cauliflower. sometimes woody toward the bottom. Zucchini puréed with cream and butter is a side dish that is much appreciated in the summer. All four are eaten stuffed with meat. rice. poivron (bell pepper). cucumbers. or breadcrumbs. Tomato halves sprinkled . Zucchini traveled from Italy into France. and cauliflower at market. grown under mounds to avoid exposure to light. tomate (tomato). Peppers and tomatoes are New World plants that were brought back to Europe in the late Renaissance.

and sauté the onion and garlic about 3 minutes. and transfer to the bowl. sautéed in butter. Occasionally it is co-opted for service in egg desserts such as pumpkin flan or pumpkin crème brûlée. Sauté the zucchini about 6 minutes until lightly browned. stir gently to mix. and smooth in texture (about 8 or 9 minutes). peeled peppers are made into cold salads. then put in the eggplant. membranes removed. Using a slotted spoon. and sliced • 1 eggplant (about 1 pound). Pour the last tablespoon of olive oil into the pan. .68 Food Culture in France with herbs and bread crumbs and then baked to concentrate the flavors accompany meat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. light-colored. transfer to a large bowl. then sauté the sliced peppers for 5 minutes. cut into 1-inch cubes • 2 pounds tomatoes. and used in couscous. Add 3 tablespoons of oil to heat in the skillet. Citrouille or potiron (pumpkin) is made into soups. but not mushy. baked in the oven. cold. sliced into rounds • 2 green or red peppers. Stir in the rest of the parsley and the basil. Summer Vegetable Stew (Ratatouille) • 7 tablespoons olive oil • 1 pound zucchini and/or yellow crookneck squash. Take the pan off the heat. thyme and half the parsley. seeded. Simmer for 10 minutes. The quartet of vegetables is particularly associated with southern cooking. Serve hot. The vegetables should be cooked through and tender. Cook until the eggplant is soft. leaves stripped from the stems • 6 tablespoons chopped parsley • 8 tablespoons chopped basil • salt • ground black pepper Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. halved and seeded • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic • 6 sprigs thyme. and cook for 10 more minutes. as in the summer stew ratatouille. or at room temperature. Add the tomatoes. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables. Stir to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Strips of roasted. watching carefully to prevent them from browning much. Return all the vegetables in the bowl back into the pan with the tomatoes.

At best. golden chanterelles or girolles (chanterelles) do appear in markets. they have a rich. Although they look like dark chunks of coal or earth. Bits of truffle steeped in high-quality oils impart their perfume to salads. Generous quantities of truffles feature in the old aristocratic cuisine and in contemporary elite restaurant cooking. and put into soups. where the best ones grow. braised. France is now the world’s third-largest producer of cultivated mushrooms.Major Foods and Ingredients 69 MUSHROOMS The fungi known as champignons (mushrooms) grow naturally in wooded areas or meadows. For modest budgets. truffes (truffles) grow wild in forested areas. Truffles are especially associated with the Périgord. Truffle hunters develop an eye for locating patches in forested areas and are notoriously secretive about this information. usually underneath oak trees from which they derive carbonic nutrients and to which they give back mineral salts and other elements. they are quite expensive and fetch high prices on the market. Truffles are so highly prized that they are called diamants noirs (black diamonds). although the four-legged assistants must be prevented from eating their finds. Netted black morilles (morels) and dense. In the past. but mushrooms must be gathered under the supervision of an experienced person who can distinguish edible ones from poisonous varieties that look similar. Truffles are so hard to spot that people train pigs and dogs to sniff them out. Other varieties are gathered wild. Eggs delicately scrambled over very low heat with black truffle is a typical treatment. Truffles All but impossible to cultivate. They are cooked into compotes and used to stuff pastries . pâtés. they were also cultivated in caves and abandoned underground stone quarries. and they are often cooked in combination with cream and chicken. fried. grilled. long-stemmed. mineral flavor and a natural sweetness. FRUITS Fresh fruits are eaten out of hand for a snack and as a sweet course at the end of a meal. baked. shavings of black truffle are added to excellent effect to omelets. of the type called champignons de Paris or champignons blonds for their pale. Mushrooms are sautéed. and cream sauces for pasta. creamy color. dark. Chicken roasted with slices of black truffle tucked under the skin is called demi-deuil (half-mourning) because of the dark appearance the truffles give the bird. Mushrooming is popular in the countryside.

Imported bananes are widely available in shops and nearly always eaten raw. Soft-fleshed. Rhubarbe (rhubarb). Hard. purple-black pruneaux d’Agen (prunes) are a specialty of the Lot-et-Garonne region in the Southwest. available in the fall. After baking. Raisins (grapes) are a late summer dessert. preserves. and ice creams. The trick is to eat the dessert straight out of the oven. sour coings (quinces). and on flat cakes. Poires (pears) are eaten raw. red. abricots (apricots). ices. Cavaillon. pêches (peaches). jellies. Pommes (apples) are the most popular fruit and account for approximately one-quarter of all fruit eaten. otherwise the crust becomes soggy underneath the apples. fleshy. the tart is turned upside-down to reveal the caramelized apples. astringent stems are sliced. Cooked. Sweet apples such as the Golden Delicious are eaten out of hand. or baked in wine. Green and black figues (figs) and grenades (pomegranates) with their ruby flesh have been cultivated for centuries in Provence. and pâte de coing (quince paste). but most apples are transformed by cooking into pastries and desserts. and people take up sprays of delicate. caramelized by sautéing in sugar and butter. Other fruits exotiques (“exotic” or tropical fruits) imported for sale in markets include mangoes and star-fruit. is treated like the firm fruits.70 Food Culture in France and fill tarts. these fruits stuff pastries and top cakes. ice cream. myrtilles (blueberries)—are eaten fresh served in small bowls. Their juicy orange flesh is intensely sweet and flavorful. and candy. and figs also appear in jams. to be eaten with a . These fruits rouges (“red fruits” or berries) also garnish tarts and cakes. then pull the fruit right off the stem with their teeth. poached. In the industrial context they are squeezed for juice and puréed or reduced to syrups used to sweeten and flavor yogurt. cooked in syrup. They are eaten raw in the late summer when they ripen. Prunes d’Ente and fat. flavor yogurt. which is enjoyed as a Christmas sweet. The berries— fraises (strawberries). or cerises (cherries) are placed whole in bowls on the table after a meal in summer for dessert. then arranged in a pan with a single layer of short crust on top. Tarte Tatin or upside-down apple tart appears on restaurant dessert menus and is baked at home to end a festive dinner. The most popular melons are the small green-skinned varieties known as Chantal. and Charentais. jewel-like groseilles (red currants) with the fingers. and made into tarts and pastries. and form sauces that accompany pork or game. In recent years the New Zealand kiwi has become extremely popular and is now widely cultivated in France. Prunes (plums) came west to France with Crusaders returning from Syria. framboises (raspberries). pitted drupes such as nectarines (nectarines) and meltingly sweet brugnons (white nectarines). Apples are sliced into large pieces or quartered. Its long. they are usually served halved. are cooked into compote. a member of the knotgrass family.

and raisins. raspberry. Before modern refrigeration and freezing. It is prepared from fresh or dried fruits. Rowanberry and elderberry jellies and gooseberry jam are served with game to temper the headier flavors of the meat. then boil it down the next morning. and they are served as dessert (instead of fruits) during the winter months. and with blue cheeses. Oranges (oranges) are the most common of the thickskinned citrus fruits. They pair with poultry and meat. Citrons (lemons) are used in both savory and sweet preparations. chicken. abricoter (“to apricot”) means to glaze a cake or tart with a coating of boiled. prunes. jellies are also made from decoctions of lavender or from wine. Pamplemousses (grapefruit) are usually pressed into juice. figs. making preserves ensured that one could eat fruits in some form during the cold winter months. clear preserve from which all berry seeds or chunks of fruit have been strained off. Jam is ubiquitous on breakfast tables: strawberry. they are used in salads and soups. Most jam is industrial. in cooking they have a special affinity for fish. the word also refers to nuts in general) are used in baking and confectionary and in savory cooking to garnish salads and hot dishes. JELLIES. Pastèque (watermelon) is popular during the summer in the South. quinces.Major Foods and Ingredients 71 spoon for a summer entrée. with salads. frequently in combination with shrimp and crabs. Preserves have many uses in baking. or both. Sweet amandes (almonds) are in fact pit fruits related to . Sweet-acid currant jelly is a traditional accompaniment to hot preparations of foie gras. NUTS Dried Isère noix (walnuts. plus on l’étale (Jam is like intelligence: the less you have. say the French. A gelée (jelly) is a fine-textured. and cédrats (citrons) are candied for use in baking and confectionary. however. JAMS. they are sometimes served peeled and sliced as a light first course. and veal. the more you spread it around). Citrons verts (limes) are used in mixing drinks. AND COMPOTES La confiture. Avocats (avocadoes) are technically fruits. Containers of jewel-like preserves were often exchanged as gifts. such as apples. The lovely sheen on strawberry tarts and other pastries in bakery windows is usually due to an apricot glaze. apricot. and plum are popular flavors to spread on bread for a tartine. strained apricot preserves. but during the summer people macerate fruit in sugar overnight. Compote is a simple dessert of fruits stewed in syrup or wine. est comme l’intelligence: moins on en a.

working with sugar is an art in itself. with meats and in confectionary. Whole chestnuts go into stuffing for turkey and combine with cabbbage to make hearty winter braised dishes. Sugar is essential to chocolatiers or chocolate makers. the pithy. and small. Hard sugar candy is shaped in molds or else blown like glass from heavy syrup. HONEY. Candied in sugar syrup. then strewn on salads and used as garnishes. are nonetheless exquisite. the tradition of artisanal confectionary is quite strong in France. Contemporary bonbons. and yogurt. Pignons (pine nuts) are lightly toasted in a pan. decorative boxes of hand-made candies such as chewy nougats (made with egg white) or nut pralines (in a crunchy sugar coating) are often given as gifts. breakfast cereals. As in the United States. although in smaller quantities than in other European countries. France leads the European Union in the production of sugar from sugar beets. Tiny green pistaches (pistachios) are used like hazelnuts. in cooking they are often paired with trout. hard sugar candies. Few confectioners today make the elaborate sugar sculptures that featured on aristocratic tables in the past. Noisettes (hazelnuts or filberts) garnish meat concoctions such as pâtés and are added to hard sausages. Fresh nutmeats are pale white. Although most nuts are eaten dried. still-green shells are carved open with a sharp knife. . Despite the prevalence of industrial candies. worldwide it is second. fresh hazelnuts and almonds appear seasonally in markets. Most chocolate is eaten in the form of the industrial milk chocolate bars available in every supermarket and grocery store. SUGAR. with a crisp texture. Today. and a sweet flavor.72 Food Culture in France peaches. AND SWEETS Sucre (sugar) was long a luxury consumed by the affluent and considered a spice rather than a cooking staple or a food. if more modest. perhaps into naturalistic forms such as roses and leaves. a milky moistness. sugar is widely used in the food industry as an additive to fruit juices. When fresh. pastries. they are called marrons glacés and are used in sweet preparations such as chestnut cream. CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is widely consumed in France. The petits-fours or very small cakes known as calissons d’Aix are made of sweetened melon paste and egg white. biscuits. preserves. then carved into the typical almond shape. The paste is glossed with hard white sugar icing. Salted and left in their shells. Berlingots and bêtises de Cambrai are both bonbons with a glasslike appearance typical for flavored. colored. Châtaignes (chestnuts) are ground into flour that is used to make bread and cakes. they accompany an apéritif.

the pastry professionals. Apiculture or the cultivation of bees for honey is a common hobby that recalls the rural agricultural life of the recent past. it has become fashionable for cafés to serve a small square of chocolate with their coffees. fermented honey drinks were made in Lorraine. buttery croissants are eaten at breakfast along with a bowl of coffee or hot chocolate. Residents of rural areas and also many suburban dwellers keep a hive in the garden and collect their own honey. better tasting. Honey gives pain d’épices (spice cake) from Dijon its characteristic flavor and dark color. and flaky. homemade preparations. and bees were also important as a source of wax to make the votive candles lit in churches. distinctive flavors. PASTRIES AND DESSERTS One of the many seductions of France is the large range of imaginative desserts and pâtisseries (pastries). At breakfast honey is eaten like jam—spread on buttered bread or spooned over plain yogurt for flavor and sweetness. During the late Middle Ages.Major Foods and Ingredients 73 In recent years. which are croissants filled with chocolate. Pains au chocolat. desserts such as oeufs à la neige or île flottante (eggs in snow or floating island: egg whites poached in milk and served on crème anglaise or thin custard. viewed as more natural. brioche. After a festive meal. Artisanal chocolate makers produce bonbons stuffed with fruits or creams. Miel (honey) has been a familiar if not widely used sweetener since Celtic and Roman times. raisin-filled spirals. Honey from meadow flowers and crop fields is the most common. pine honey. and it is a traditional ingredient in ginger cakes. For a special occasion such as a weekend dinner or a birthday celebration. are a favorite with children. a basic layer cake with fruits. flavored with liquors or spices. a Lyon specialty is the cocoa-dusted hérisson or hedgehog. mixed with nuts. the result of promotional efforts on the part of chocolate manufacturers. Metz. so-called for its spiky appearance. orange flower honey. a box of elegant chocolates may be passed around the table as a last morsel to follow coffee. connoisseurs seek out dark chocolate with a significant cocoa content (at least 50 percent). and the Vosges. to complex confections made only by pâtissiers. As in the United States. These range from simple. Chocolats come in imaginative shapes. and thyme honey are harvested in the South and have delicate. Lavender honey. home cooks craft a simple chocolate or pound cake. Viennoiseries or fine pastries such as chaussons de pomme or baked apple turnovers. the whole garnished with . and of higher quality than the overly sweetened and less saturated mixtures. according to the inspiration of the confectioner.

being closer to an Italian gelato. which soaks up the flavors and colors of the spreads. These cakes are finished with a fruit glaze or jelly to give the outside a transparently colorful liquid sheen. arranged in a circle. such as lavender. sabayon (zabaglione. is not terribly sweet. mango and passion fruit. invented in 1954 in Paris in honor of the Palais Garnier opera house. herbs. flavors are based on local fruits. In the South. recognizable from the powdered sugar and almonds that decorate the top. hazelnut. and honey. Served in a large. and nut creams on a light sponge cake. or eggs are appreciated as light.e. During the seventeenth century. layers puff pastry with almond and hazelnut cream. and is slightly granular in texture.” i. Vanilla and chocolate are favorite flavors. then similarly garnished with sauces and fruits. strawberry. and restaurants feature coupes de glace and bombes on the menu for dessert. French glace (“ice. Professionally made tarts lined with pastry cream or almond cream and topped with fruits are perennial favorites. In formal settings. and a crisp cookie. nuts. The family of frothy cakes that includes the Roussillon and the Framboisine are made from layers of gelées. rosemary. During the summer. To make an Opéra. to refresh the palate. and refreshing desserts. which is sweet-sour. milk. a thin biscuit is soaked in coffee syrup. . but far more elaborate classic confections are widely available in the pastry shops. A coupe is an oversized concoction garnished with fruits. For an elaborate dinner. and the whole is iced with chocolate. ices made their way to France via Italy. fruit purée as sauce. it is usually meant to be shared by two people. bowl-shaped glass coupe (goblet). A Paris-Brest. A bombe is ice cream molded into a round shape. butter cream and chocolate cream are spread on alternate layers. and raspberry. mousse au chocolat (chocolate mousse). a cake or tart will be bought from a pâtissier. a tiny quantity of sorbet is served between courses of a meal. or produce. and pistachio are common. It contains little cream. and garnished with flavored whipped cream or custard sauce make a SaintHonoré. people buy cones at street stands and ice cream shops. ice cream) differs from American ice cream. cooling.74 Food Culture in France caramel). or a fruit tart.. a frothy egg cream whisked over a double boiler and flavored with sweet wine such as Muscat). Small puff pastry balls filled with cream. are summer flavors. thinly sliced fruit. Sorbets and granités or true ices made without any cream. ICE CREAM AND SORBET Ices and ice creams can be traced to ancient China and were eaten at the court of Alexander the Great and by the Emperor Nero during the first century.

and the coffee is brewed with relatively little water. Dark roasted Robusta or Arabica beans are used. violette (violet) flavors candy and black tea. is drunk at breakfast. and flower flavors are primarily associated with sweet dishes. Café au lait. Green sweet-sour angelica stems. rich-tasting beverage. light afternoon refreshment. Orange flower is the distinctive flavor in the sweet version of the yeasted pastries called fougaces. Chocolat or hot chocolate is a popular beverage among children. spice. Vanille (vanilla) is a staple of bakers. after the United States and Germany. domestically produced substitute for coffee.Major Foods and Ingredients 75 HERBS AND FLOWERS USED AS SWEET FLAVORINGS Some herb. coffee refreshes the palette. Until the midtwentieth century. The use of eau de fleur d’oranger (orange flower water) and eau de rose (rose water) in pastry-making in the South reflects a Middle Eastern influence that came via Spain with the Moors. Throughout the day and after lunch and dinner. today. Chicory is a green related to endive. In the past. ground roots are sold in powders or granules that resemble instant coffee and may be dissolved in hot milk. In recent years. TISANES. in demitasse cups. taken in the past as medicine. are candied by repeated dipping into sugar syrup and then carved into attractive shapes. and whole violet flowers candied in sugar garnish cakes and pastries. tea has gained popularity as a breakfast drink. similar to Italian espresso. TEA. sipped after the varied flavors of a meal. the perfume industry centered in Grasse also supplied cooks. Chicory is naturally nutty and sweet in flavor and lacks the bitterness and caffeine of coffee. less frequently hot water. The result is a strong. A cup of tea contains far less caffeine than a cup of coffee. AND HOT CHOCOLATE Nearly everybody drinks café (coffee). hot milk with strong coffee. as well. Coffee drunk at mid-morning or in the late afternoon is a pick-me-up. Mint is used primarily for tisane and as a flavor for syrups drunk over ice. This is simply called un café (a coffee) or a petit noir. Children may also be given bowls of chicorée (chicory). . This is due in part to health concerns. France is the third largest purchaser of coffee beans in the world. It is drunk at breakfast from the same kind of bowls that adults use for café au lait. its roasted. COFFEE. brewed black and green teas were associated with elegant. and tea may offer other health benefits. most blossoms used in perfumes and flavorings are imported from India and Asia. people drink small cups of black coffee. which used to be drunk as an inexpensive. connoisseurs appreciate the delicate variety of flavors.

particularly in the South. so that glasses may conveniently be refilled. Natural or added carbonation is responsible for the bubbles in sparkling mineral waters. guimauve (mallow).11 General preference runs to drinking water that is cool or room temperature. Still waters from springs at Evian. but as a refreshing beverage for the late afternoon. The most distinctive is Orangina. and the various decoctions are appreciated for their medicinal properties. une menthe à l’eau— green mint syrup and water—is cooling in hot weather. and they are often ordered in cafés. and sodium are other common mineral elements in spring waters. Volvic. and Vatel are popular. Liter-sized bottles of water are available at grocery stores and corner stores. Grenadine (pomegranate) and cassis (black currant) are well-loved flavors. Some small towns. although it is not consumed on the same scale as in the United States. Contrex.76 Food Culture in France A tisane or infusion is a made from a dried flower or herb such as verveine (verbena). Infusions are taken before bed or as an after-dinner hot drink instead of coffee. such as calcium for bone health. Orgeat is barley syrup. although sometimes it is based on almonds. Beloved by children and popular with people of all ages during the summer. along with a few French sodas. heavily concentrated syrup with a distinctive fruit or herbal flavor is mixed with water to make a refreshing drink. or menthe (mint) steeped in hot water. a pitcher or carafe of tap water or a bottle of spring water is placed on the table. not cold or iced. orange-shaped bottle. still have public fountains that antedate the installation in homes of filtered running water. giving the false impression (shared by many of the French) that tap water is never drunk. They are given to the sick. potassium. Fanta. Sodas and syrups are not drunk with meals. SODA AND SYRUPS Soda is everywhere available. such as Badoit and Perrier. Fluorine. During meals. More typical than soda are sirops (syrups). A small quantity of thick. sweet. Coke. despite its name. easily spotted in its squat. The flavors of spring waters vary according to their mineral content (or the lack thereof) indicated on the bottle label. WATER Spring waters are heavily marketed. tap water is the most commonly drunk liquid in France10 and may safely be consumed throughout the country. . and other imported beverages are easy to find. In fact. Waters with high mineral contents are appreciated for their healthful properties.

By far the most popular liqueur is anise-flavored pastis.and after-dinner drinks) and have many uses in cooking. and desserts and are f lambéed for a dramatic presentation. Cidre (cider) in France is what Americans call hard cider. Today. Excessive consumption and bad quality mixtures produced unfortunate effects. when they were marketed as a substitute for absinthe (absinthe). La fée verte (the green fairy) was so called for the milky green color it assumes when mixed with water. when new varieties of apples and cultivation techniques were brought from Spain. Since the sixteenth century. Absinthe is quite bitter and has to be sweetened with a cube of sugar. Pernod and other anise liqueurs became popular in the nineteenth century. apples and cider have been typical of Normandy. stewed dishes. beer was an important source of food calories for northern Europeans. By the end of the eighth century. beer is an ingredient in the beef stew carbonade and in some fish stews. Most distilled liqueurs were originally concocted as medicines. and the Maine. people had begun to add medicinal hop blossoms to ale. In cooking. Liqueurs have been manufactured in France since the distilling process was brought back from the Middle East during the Crusades. or toasted.5 percent alcohol by volume). Brittany. an ancient tonic that is also potentially toxic. germinated barley that has been fermented with yeast and water. also flavored with anise and fennel. a handful of industrial breweries in Alsace.Major Foods and Ingredients 77 BEER AND CIDER Cervoise (ale) antedates wine in France and can be traced back to the Gauls. The problem was that it contained wormwood (Artemesia absinthium). Ale is malt. The hops give the characteristic bitter flavor and act as a natural preservative. They flavor sauces. and beer consumption is heaviest in this region and along the Belgian border. Pastis. such as Kronenbourg and Météor. For centuries. A panaché is a summer drink made of beer mixed with lemonade. and the government banned the sale of absinthe . in the countryside of the Northwest. there it rivals wine in importance. Cider is consumed on a much smaller scale than wine or beer. making true bière (beer). not to mention for its magical transformative powers. the bubbly fermented apple juice that is mildly alcoholic (4. Most is drunk near where it is made. produce most of the French beers. BRANDIES AND LIQUEURS Eaux-de-vie (fortified alcohols or distilled liqueurs) are drunk as apéritifs and digestifs (before. a shot of grenadine syrup is added. For a bubbly red Monaco.

Bright yellow or green Chartreuse was developed by a Carthusian sect. Pastis-and-water is the basis for a handful of simple.” “Le vin du solitaire. people still concoct their own brandies by soaking fruits such as pears or plums in a neutrally flavored alcohol. 2. in the late afternoon. or fruit. In the Midi. 76–81. Most liquors draw their distinctive flavor from an herb. by commercial distillers.78 Food Culture in France in 1915. Orange-flavored Cointreau and Grand-Marnier were invented in the mid–nineteenth century.” and “Le vin des amants. straight-sided glass. barley. Grimod de la Reynière. It is drunk mixed with chilled water. known in this circumstance as a trou normand. un Martini in France is a before-dinner glass of herbflavored vermouth. Among after-dinner drinks. “L’Âme du vin. pastis and other anise mixtures were available. but flavored with herbs and spices. and oats. root. popular cocktails.” “Le vin de l’assassin. Mixed with mint syrup. In the countryside. Most of the herbal liqueurs have monastic origins. originally from French-speaking Switzerland. Calvados or apple brandy is beloved in the apple-growing regions of Normandy. Adding grenadine makes a pink-red tomate or “tomato.” “Le vin des chiffoniers. opens up a “hole” (trou) so that you can eat more. Le Manuel des Amphitryons (Paris: Cappelle et Renand. 1980). A shot of Calvados is sometimes drunk between courses during a meal. Vermouth is based on grapes. Oeuvres complètes (Paris: Robert Laffont. narrow. pastis turns a light milky yellow when mixed with water. notably by soothing the stomach and intestines. The bitter flavor of Suze. the green drink that results is a perroquet (parrot). NOTES 1. however. for instance. as the monks concocted them for use as medicines. not the American mixed drink. Gin is based on rye. pastis is regarded as having a beneficial effect on health. Conveniently. 14. 1808).” The addition of barley syrup gives a Mauresque or Morisco. where gardens with fruit trees are common. before dinner. . to promote digestion and help eaters make their way through a particularly rich repast.” Les Fleurs du mal (1857). comes from gentian roots that have soaked in eau-de-vie. but owes its flavor to a strong infusion of juniper berries. classic Cognac is the most famous grape brandy. it is a mark of respect and a gesture of friendship to offer a guest a glass of house-made brandy. The theory goes that the small glass of apple brandy. A clear light brown by itself. l’heure du pastis—time for a sociable pastis—is practically any hour of the day: before lunch. in Charles Baudelaire. Unlike its lethal ancestor. Suze is drunk over ice and mixed with sparkling water from a tall.

1995. 8. “T’ang. Histoire sociale et culturelle du vin (Paris: Larousse-Bordas. Schafer. 4. un ‘or jaune. 2002). 11. “L’huile d’olive. Didier Nourrisson. 5. 7. Jean-Louis Flandrin. Silvano Serventi. 18. Pasta. 2002). 10. 111. 1999). xiv. Edward H. Chang (New Haven: Yale University Press.Major Foods and Ingredients 79 3. 281. 1990). 2006). L’agriculture et la maison rustique. Le Livre du foie gras (Paris: Flammarion. preface by Pierre Troisgros (Paris: BPI. Michel Maincent. French translation by Jean Liébault (Paris: Chez Jaques Du-Puys. 131. 16.’” Le Monde (May 24. . Antony Shugaar (New York: Columbia University Press. trans. 47. Gilbert Garrier. 6. Silvano Serventi and Françoise Sabban. 1570). Le Buveur du XIXe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel.” in Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives. 1977). 1998). Technologie culinaire. 179. “Et le beurre conquit la France. Charles Estienne. 9.” L’Histoire 85 (1986): 109. C. editor K.


SUPERMARKETS As in other urban consumer societies. not to mention the oversized hypermarché. Price-fixing was common. From the kitchen garden. Efficient stoves and the taste for lighter foods. most food shops were specialized and expensive. highly rationalized preparations. kitchen technologies. as conservative shopkeepers sought to shield themselves from competition. before the war. This is a recent innovation.500 square meters (about 1. home cooks have moved into the small shop and the supermarket. and most food shopping is done at commercial chain supermarchés (supermarkets).270 square yards) of selling space. defined as having 1. executive chefs are astute managers as well as gastronomic high priests and food designers. and of course the cook. The transition from a largely agricultural way of life to a fully modern urban and suburban one was completed in the last century.308 to 3. The roles of professional cooks are diverse.3 Cooking Elements that shape cooking practices include available ingredients. economical plats mijotés (slow-cooked dishes). as well as time pressure and busy schedules have contributed to the rise of fast-cooked foods as rivals to old-style. At the end of the Second World War.000 to 2. cooking has become an assembly process where employees carry out simplified. In fast-food eateries. they had fought tooth and nail to curb . the French acquire nearly all provisions in stores. In elite restaurants.

Leclerc had to write to the federal government to defend himself. legal limits have been imposed. sterile or Americanized way of life. bread. In the interest of maintaining commercial diversity and protecting the small shops. however. some associate the large chains. In 1949.500 square meters (about 3. packaged. turned belligerent. then sealed in plastic can be added directly to a dinner dish as it heats up. Sealed containers of fresh fruit salad kept under refrigeration are meant to be sold and eaten within a few days. His outraged colleagues. and milk or juice in sealed tretrapacks or bricks that can be stored at room temperature until they are opened. It was in these circumstances that the first of the modern domestic commercial chains got its start. canned goods. fresh from a decade of schooling in Jesuit seminaries. In addition to packages of flash-frozen vegetables or fruits and containers of ice creams . such as the ban on building an hypermarché within city limits in Paris. the French more than any other European population frequent not just supermarchés but also hypermarchés or grande surfaces (superstores). the small shopkeepers. In most towns where an Auchan or other big store opens. By the 1960s.82 Food Culture in France the growth of cooperative magasins à succursales (chain stores).2 As in the United States. A recent trend for commercial supermarkets and the food industry is to marry the appeal of fresh items with the convenience of food that is prepared. supermarchés stock perishables as well as items designed for long storage such as dried pasta. Today. self-service supermarkets had become prevalent and Leclerc’s practices the norm. and discounters (discount stores). and the Ministère des Finances (Ministry of Finance) took the opportunity to affirm the illegality of price-fixing. small shops close. Nonetheless.270 square yards). Fresh potatoes that are peeled. A chain of supermarkets that is unique to France sells only surgelés (frozen foods). whose discounts hardly differed from small shop prices. the young Édouard Leclerc began buying large quantities of groceries directly from factories and producers. defined as having selling space greater than 2. As Leclerc grew his first store and then opened other outlets. a store that stocked a wide variety of competitively priced comestibles was revolutionary if not actually heretical. like fast-food restaurants. with an impersonal. cooked. then reselling them at a full 25 percent below the shop prices. he had to do battle with urban department stores such as Monoprix and Prisunic. The fancier stores have specialty counters such as for fresh fish. and wine.1 In this atmosphere. This practice made a hit among his neighbors in Landerneau (Brittany) as they shopped for dinner. ever on the lookout for bargains and a favorable rapport qualité-prix (quality-price ratio). and ready to eat.

charcuterie (shop for cured meats. terrines. these stores sell items such as appetizers that can be quickly prepared by heating in the oven and tart shells to be filled with fruits for dessert or with a savory filling to make a hot lunch. and other pork products). and pâtés at the boucher-charcutier Lavigne in Montceau-les-Mines. the shops are usually located in the town center. The old rules are Sausages. hams. As relatively few households had ovens until the midtwentieth century. especially hams. In villages and small towns. Guild rules limited what a merchant could sell. In city neighborhoods. sausages. but also gave the merchant an effective monopoly in that particular line of business. boulangerie (bread shop). royal statutes and guilds or corporations structured the manufacturing and retail sectors of the economy. SPECIALTY SHOPS Small specialty stores such as the fromagerie (cheese shop). . The specialty shops recall that through the eighteenth century. rows of different kinds of food shops cluster together. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. the boulangerie has long been an institution even in villages. and pâtisserie (pastry shop) recall older shopping traditions.Cooking 83 and sorbets. bread being practically a synonym for life itself.

replaced by supermarkets that sell products more cheaply. but . Similarly.3 The picture is quite different for less affluent areas. may be relied on for his expert knowledge in the matter of fish. shop hours followed those of the business day. or praise a bottle discovered through mon caviste (“my wine seller”). By earlier norms. remaining open until 7 or 8 P. as well as upscale supermarkets. Those who regularly frequent such stores often refer not to the shop itself.84 Food Culture in France no longer in place. As middle. sell prepared dishes that are ready to eat. a strategy opposite that of the generalist supermarket. STORE AND SHOP HOURS Until as recently as the 1980s. until 11 P. In affluent areas. in the bourgeois classes the woman of the house remained at home and could shop and cook. this schedule became inconvenient and impractical. Private attendance at annual or seasonal food and wine expositions and trade shows increases yearly. Most small shops are not self-service. one refers to the good vegetables chez mon marchand de légumes (“at my grocer’s”). the small shops now offer access to products perceived as high quality and of reliable provenance. although fruits and vegetables are displayed in open bins. who. or supervise the shopping and cooking. For the shopper filling a basket with provisions. recommend cheeses to be eaten the same day or two days later. or midnight. connoisseurs with the means for leisure spending further extend their shopping circuits to venues formerly frequented largely by food professionals. One may make a trip chez mon poissonnier (“to my fish seller’s”). and bag produce. or about 157 to 523 square yards) and corner stores may remain open later still. It is considered rude to walk in to a small specialty food store simply to look around. Shopkeepers slice ham to order. but boutiques cultivate the aura as well as the practice of specialization. At this end of the economic spectrum. Now most supermarkets and small shops keep evening hours. Supérettes (convenience stores with selling space measuring 120 to 400 square meters. Here specialty shops struggle to survive or have disappeared entirely.and upper-class women entered the workforce and the professions in larger numbers. specialty shops run by traiteurs or caterers.M. Pharmacies alternate night shifts against medical emergencies. Food items are displayed behind glass or on shelves behind a counter. Interaction between the customer and the shopkeeper is required for the purchase to be transacted. but to the person who runs it.M. during the day. it is understood. especially outside of the densely populated cities and in small towns.

and the market is a place to see and be seen. Ironically. At a good market. driving cattle before them or carrying heavy baskets of provisions to sell. or weekend outdoor marchés (markets) in cities and towns can be traced through medieval trade and monastic fairs and to the marketplaces established in Gaul by the Romans. to expand while easing urban traffic congestion. the produce. and cheeses for sale at outdoor markets are identical to those in the supermarkets. Cheeses have been fully aged under proper conditions of temperature and humidity.Cooking 85 other stores do not stay open round the clock. 1873). the market relocated to Rungis. swallowing up the lives of the individuals whose work there keeps the rest of the capital alive. China. and imports are flown in daily from Israel. The heart and soul of food shopping dwell in the smaller retail markets. weekly. Beyond access to fresh foods. In the 1960s. . in some instances. French cooking in general and la cuisine du marché in particular seek to bring out or improve the inherent features of good ingredients. An ultra-modern supply chain provisions the market. During the late nineteenth century. Morocco. Today. south of Paris. Zola documents in fascinating detail the nocturnal march that country dwellers made to arrive in the city by early morning. La cuisine du marché (market cooking) implies taking inspiration from seasonal ingredients. As much as the opportunity to buy edibles and ingredients. outdoor marketing offers possibilities for socializing and a picturesque experience. the rank stench that pervaded the fish and the meat sections by the day’s end in summer—the first modern refrigeration technology was still in its infancy and it was not yet widely available. Turkey. Fruits are at the peak of ripeness. it is these elements of market culture that draw crowds.4 Yet the notion that markets offer the best local items directly from a farmer or producer is not always wrong. The stroll through the outdoor market is an end in itself. Food shopping is part of the business of the day. and other locations. Truckloads of domestic produce arrive every morning. In Le Ventre de Paris (The Belly of Paris. Meats have been hung to develop their flavor and tenderness. a special rich odor hangs in the air. meats. rivalries among merchants who compete for customers. the market is the rapacious gullet and grumbling gut of the city. Benin. the fresh perfume from the flower stands. the novelist Émile Zola “scientifically” described the sprawling Parisian market located for centuries at Les Halles. MARKETS The daily. Rungis is a wholesale market open to professionals and retailers such as restaurant chefs and grocers.

nostalgia centered around food and cuisine de ménage or cuisine familiale (home cooking) tends to have an association with women. You may need to baste and turn the apples once or twice to make sure they are coated with syrup. combine 2 cups water (or cider or wine). the tasks—or pleasures—of cooking and food shopping are likely to be shared. and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. Grate a dash of nutmeg over each serving. like housework and childcare.86 Food Culture in France COOKING AT HOME Cooking at home. familiar. serve the apples with cream or a scoop of ice cream. salt. until the apples are cooked but still intact. then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. and quarter the apples. core. into the home kitchen as cooks and nurturers for their families and households. When people reminisce. The phrase la cuisine grand-mère (grandmother’s cooking) describes dishes that are thought to be old-fashioned and soul-satisfying. as well. and comforting. Bring the syrup to the boil. If no vanilla bean was used. . cinnamon sticks. they recall “my mother’s” version of a dish as the very best. Add the apples. however. Allow the apples to cool in their syrup. dipping each section briefly into the lemon mixture to prevent discoloring. and cloves. Stewed Apples (Compote de pommes) • 6 large apples. and contemporary notions of gender equality have brought men. In a saucepan. was long the province of women. sugar. the entry of women into the professions. Peel. preferably a firm cooking variety such as Granny Smith • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/2 cup water • 2 cups water. Particularly in younger couples. or white wine • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar • pinch salt • 1 2-inch piece of a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 2-inch cinnamon sticks • 2 whole cloves • nutmeg Mix the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water in a bowl. add vanilla extract. If desired. Take the pot off the heat. apple cider. cover the pot. The education of women including higher education. hard apple cider. vanilla bean (if using). such as the simple home dessert compote de pommes.

baking for items that do not require long exposure to heat. refill water and wine glasses. Ready-made. recipes were transmitted within families primarily as cooking techniques. Home cooking today. despite the prevalence of eating out. budget. In addition to preparing meals. Basic kitchen equipment and a dining table with chairs are among the very first items that a young person or couple setting up house will buy. For a holiday or birthday celebration. Supermarkets sell items suited to the fast cooking methods. Men uncork wine bottles. The continuity and sense of tradition that marked these practices corresponded to repetition. tradition. affluence. meats in fillets and chops. such as fish in fillets. is more varied and experimental. prepared. charcuterie. and carve roasts. slow-simmered soups or stews of past centuries have largely been replaced by quick dishes. cooking remains a central feature of home life. Breakfast pastries such as brioche and croissant are purchased from the boulanger or pâtissier. Until quite recently. steaming (for vegetables). a cake may be bought from a pâtissier. and time pressures factor into this trend. A written recipe often consisted of only a few words jotted on a scrap of paper or in a family book as an aide-mémoire (prod to the memory). female family members are likely to stack up used plates and carry them away from the table. cheese. Home cooks take advantage of fresh preparations from specialty shops. however. Bread is almost never made at home. FAST COOKING AND SHORTCUTS In home kitchens. such as . and semi-prepared elements further facilitate the task of cooking and serving meals at home. and produce that can be eaten raw in salads. bring in fresh plates for the next course. the economical. used primarily as references for proportions or methods. participation in the family meal still often relies on the performance of roles that remain defined by gender. from televised cooking shows to the wide variety of domestic and imported foods in stores.Cooking 87 Regardless of professional accomplishments that women realize outside the home. Searing or sautéing. and carry in food from the kitchen. and technical competence are balanced by any number of outside influences. although it is a part of nearly every meal. coming from the kitchen. Cooking technology. Other staples of the kitchen and table purchased ready-made include jams. yogurt. Today. A family’s entire kitchen library consisted of one or two basic printed cookbooks. personal taste. and pressure cooking are the preferred methods. and the mustard that is ubiquitous in vinaigrette dressing for salads and as a condiment for meats. The repetitions imposed by time.

seed. Bake 25 minutes. Minimal fuss yields a fresh. TOOLS IN THE HOME KITCHEN The efficient. rationalized kitchen that is typical became so only during the last half-century. and lay out flat in a baking dish. an easy plat (main course) for a summer lunch or dinner. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water for 20 seconds to facilitate peeling. chopped Preheat the oven to 350° F. until the onion and tomato soften and the sauce thickens.88 Food Culture in France a butcher’s mixture of fresh. home-cooked main dish. tomato. In rustic dwellings having no separate room for cooking. then gives the stuffed vegetables a quick turn on the stove in an inch of liquid or pops them into the oven. which became standard in France in the 1950s. loose raw sausage meat or ground pork with spices or herbs. Before serving. Baked Cod with Tomatoes (Cabillaud à la portugaise) • 2 pounds fresh cod fillets • salt • pepper • 1/3 cup olive oil • 1/3 cup chopped onion • 4 medium tomatoes • 3 cloves garlic. one cooked over a brazier or else in pots suspended above an open fire that vented through . Pour the tomato sauce over the fish. garlic. Coat the fish thoroughly with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. add the sugar. Stir the onion. and a modern stove. Pour in the wine. The stove has evolved in a particularly dramatic fashion. then taste and season with salt and pepper. simple preparation but lively flavor describe this typical recipe for baked fish with a tomato sauce. then sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper. and dice them. and remaining olive oil together in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Similarly. crushed • 1/2 cup dry white wine • 1/2 teaspoon sugar • 6 sprigs parsley. sprinkle the whole fish or each serving with chopped parsley. As in any western kitchen. the central features are running water. one simply spoons the flavored meat into hollowed-out tomatoes or zucchini. then peel. At home.

Electric stoves with burner disks or coils that come to temperature became common in the 1960s.Cooking 89 the roof. self-contained electrical steamers for vegetables. metal stoves came to include multiple ovens with individual access doors. where space comes at a premium. By the end of the eighteenth century. Dishwashers and range vents above the stove are prevalent. aesthetics. The four (oven). Congélateurs (freezers) are less common. Recent innovations such as smooth ceramic stovetops and plaques à induction (magnetic induction cooktops) that do not retain heat when no cooking is in process double as countertops. Accomplished amateur cooks prize restaurant-grade appliances such as oversize gas stoves that throw powerful flames. Today. and brick. . an offshoot of radar technology developed in the United States during the Second World War. Situating the fire on a hearth against an exterior wall and venting through a chimney imposed a sense of containment. food processors. la batterie de cuisine (pots and pans). The 1850s saw the invention of the gas stove. both gas and variations on the electrical stove—efficient for slow cooking—are prevalent in home kitchens. is usually electric. although wealthy families purchased Frigidaires. allowed easy control over the cooking flame. common gadgets in home kitchens include coffee makers. as well as in cooking as such. beaters. have been popular since the 1970s. recently. Fours à micro-ondes (microwaves). The gas stove avoided the burden of stocking wood or charcoal. A réfrigérateur or frigo (refrigerator) has been standard since the late 1960s. In addition to the top range. fires in chimneys in the great houses conveniently supported spit roasting. hand-held plunge mixeurs (blenders) that convert vegetables into soup. and. Their engineering and design reflect contemporary interest in safety. The multipurpose surfaces are appreciated in city apartments. suburban dwellers with spacious houses may have a larger refrigerator with a substantial freezer section and keep a separate deep freezer in a basement or garage. Today. often separate from the stovetop. and released fewer particulate pollutants. cast iron and other metal stoves became available. This modification facilitated baking and the simultaneous preparation of multiple dishes. and energy conservation. even a simple or modest kitchen has connections for the full range of appareils électroménagers (appliances) now considered basic and essential. Ustensiles or petits outils (utensils). Beyond the major appliances. which became widely available in the 1930s. and la vaisselle (dishes) complete the equipment in the home kitchen.or tile-covered fourneaux (“furnaces”) slow simmering and stewing in pots on the stovetop. as early as the late 1920s. By the seventeenth century. made by General Motors.

silicone supplement the wooden spoons. Sets of plates usually include the typical hemispherical breakfast bowls for café au lait in addition to flat dinner plates. sautéing. By contrast. braising. some cooks insist that the only way to make good pistou (pesto for stirring into vegetable soup) is by hand using a mortier et pilon (mortar and pestle). a couteau économe (peeler). The cocotte is still appreciated for these qualities. Newer utensils made of hard plastic and. a firmly anchored. These implements are designed to last for decades. the various regions are known for their local styles. France has been known for elegant china. crushing together garlic cloves and salt. in addition to utensils.90 Food Culture in France Despite the capacities of electrical food processors. and searing. and impermeability to stains and odors. In sets of . cutting. when the Cocotte-Minute was marketed for fast cooking and energy efficiency. angled surface holding multiple blades. Equally typical rustic glazed terra cotta is found in the South. including commissioning the Sèvres manufacture. heat resistance. durability. such as decorative Quimper ware from Brittany. and trivets. and other preparations destined for the oven. cake molds. julienned. mix. Sturdy enameled cast iron pots for simmering soups and stews over a steady heat and for baking in the oven are appreciated. spatule (spatula). gives the desired consistency and subtly blends the strong perfumes. recently. and it is a feature of many kitchens. shallow soup plates with a wide diameter and deep flat rim. and paring are essentials. the marmite à pression or autocuiseur (pressure cooker) became popular only after the Second World War. silicone is becoming ubiquitous in the kitchen for flexible kneading and baking surfaces. tartes. For centuries wooden and metal spoons have served to stir. raclette (scraper). With its extraordinary flexibility. and beat ingredients in mixing bowls or in pots or pans. basil leaves and olive oil. frying. Early experiments with pressure cooking date to the seventeenth century. In the South. and surfaces for chopping. Poêles and sauteuses (pots and pans) are used for boiling. dessert plates. Home cooks use porcelain and stoneware dishes to bake gratins. toss. A fouet (whisk). passoire (colander). The whirling blades of a food processor or blender produce an unattractive mixture that is too uniform in texture. Since the importation of porcelain from China and the efforts of Louis XIV to promote luxury industries. fruits. although it is often weekend cooks and connoisseurs who take the time to use them. over which one slides vegetables. and after-dinner coffee cups. Many people use the mandoline. sliced. However. or cheese that must be scored. a variety of couteaux (knives). and râpe (grater) complete the basic kitchen tool kit. or grated. poaching. smaller plates for amuse-bouches (appetizers).

and cooking. Opinion is divided as to whether a lengthy apprenticeship and a series of stages (shorter periods of training) under reputable chefs in good restaurants . chefs train both in cooking schools and through modern apprenticeships. whether chefs de cuisine (executive chefs) or cuisiniers (line cooks). Restaurants and job opportunities multiplied during the nineteenth century. PROFESSIONAL COOKS Professional or career chefs. For restaurant owners. cooks united to form mutual aid societies. have with few exceptions been men. The grand cooking that evolved in aristocratic houses and that underpins elite cooking in today’s fine restaurants was carried out by individuals regarded as little more than servants. Boys and young men learned the cooking trade through apprenticeship. but most cooks worked under a maître d’hôtel who managed the establishment or else they reported to the propriétaire or restaurateur (owner) himself. A BTS or Brevet de technicien supérieur is a more advanced two. the culinary profession began to come into its own. winning little recognition and minimal remuneration for long hours in dangerously hot. preparing sauces. They replace the baccalauréat (high school diploma) earned at the end of (in American terms) thirteenth grade. that follows the baccalauréat. In the 1840s. thus professionalizing the work of cooking. The cooking schools initially struggled. and one had to work one’s way up from the very bottom. By the century’s end.Cooking 91 silverware or stainless steel flatware. Cooking exhibitions and competitions that showed off cooks’ talents multiplied. forks are designed to be attractive from the back. Few chefs achieved independence or autonomy with the rise of the restaurant in the eighteenth century. Despite many obstacles. nineteenth-century chefs made significant efforts to improve their working lives. smoky kitchens. Paid cooks have long toiled in the worst of conditions. Trade and professional journals emerged that were written by and for the chefs. and restaurateurs opposed them. it was cheaper to exploit the old system of apprenticeship than to hire relatively demanding cooking school graduates. The lowliest apprentice scoured pots and washed dishes before being promoted to chopping vegetables. for instance in foodservice. as the tines of the fork face down on a set table.or three-year technical course. Today. the new institutions were issuing diplomas for students finishing their three-year programs. The BEP or Brevet d’études professionelles and the CAP or Certificat d’aptitude professionelle for cooking are the vocational diplomas for two-year programs taken at the end of high school. The first cooking school was established in 1881. Nonetheless.

a group of owner-manager chefs formed the Association des Maîtres . or regional foods are operated by immigrant families. with few days off each year. where the use of semi-prepared products often moves the food toward an industrial model. In addition to cooking. some chefs have redefined their roles within commercial restaurants and a few achieved spectacular public success. relative to typical commercial restaurant work. and it is difficult to fill jobs for cooks in casual restaurants and other everyday commercial contexts. have a relatively low status within the Éducation nationale (national education system). and in retirement homes. business. Most restaurant cooks do not own the establishments in which they work. they now managed and became principal financial stakeholders. many bistros and restaurants serving traditional. prison. such situations bring higher salaries. and hospital cafeterias. STAR CHEFS In the last few decades. Inherent difficulties in the profession have not changed much over the centuries. a handful of enterprising chefs took the step of buying their own restaurants gastronomiques (high-end restaurants). the majority find employment in school. In 1951. At the same time.5 Cooking and hotel schools. a more predictable workload. Being a cook requires long hours of manual labor. By contrast. and the use of relatively modern kitchens. graduates and most chefs are qualified as service workers and earn an hourly wage or contract fees.7 and most paid cooks do not work in commercial restaurants at all. which privileges the liberal professions and professional courses. Rather. the term ouvrier reminds the winner that he is a laborer as well as an artisan. Winners proudly post it in their shop windows. To work as a chef is punishing. The media favor a glamorous vision of the elite culinary world. The award is quite prestigious.92 Food Culture in France or a diploma from a respected hotel or culinary school offers the better entrée to a career. more reasonable hours.8 There is a perception that the opportunity for creative cooking is limited in these contexts. who assume the rigors of restaurant work as a way to establish themselves within the country. local. along with their students and graduates. Because cooking school curricula are practical. One expert calculates a deficit of cooks in the tens of thousands. in military mess halls. professionals or salariés such as teachers and office workers earn a yearly salary and benefits. such as pâtissier or boulanger.6 A talented baker or other food producer who wins one of the widely recognized competitions is named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Worker in France) in his category. It is significant that at present. After the Second World War. however. Yet despite the respect for craft and appreciation for quality.

Michel Guérard. Companies in the agro-alimentary industry and chefs themselves further cultivate links to private and government-supported research laboratories such as INRA. and Paul Bocuse have cultivated ties with the industrie agroalimentaire (agricultural-alimentary industry). into homes across the country. The Association aimed to promote high-quality restaurants and the autonomous chef de cuisine. the chef may also lend the cachet of his name for marketing. the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (National Institute for Agronomic Research). In 1953. Since the 1970s. the chef assists a company to improve quality in mass-produced items. cuisiniers de France. Alain Senderens. the company underwrites the chef’s restaurant. such as packaged meals for airlines or for retail in commercial supermarket chains. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard publicunpact. To this cuisine sous contrat (cooking on contract). Acting as a consultant and advisor. Michel Troisgros. independent chef as star performer. for the finest of the fine restaurants are so expensive to run that they are rarely profitable. Michelin-starred chefs such as Joël Robuchon. the first televised cooking show brought elegant cuisine and an accomplished. contracts with . Today. the roles played by a select group of elite chefs extend far beyond activity in a single restaurant kitchen to affect a much wider market.Cooking 93 Chef Michel Troisgros (second from left) of the three-star restaurant Troisgros in Roanne at work with his staff. For chefs. In return.

94 Food Culture in France agro-alimentary companies may be coercive or beneficial. however. There is also the small group of remarkable chef-proprietors known since the end of the eighteenth century as mères (mothers). the purview of the star chef extends beyond the restaurant kitchen and dining room to overlapping spheres of industry. and government. The history of the cuisinières has yet to be elaborated beyond anecdote. finance. many middle class and smaller bourgeois households employed a cuisinière (female cook) who worked under the direct supervision of the mistress of the house. in part because of their influence on successful male chefs. . The mères came to prominence starting at the end of the nineteenth century and. In either case. A few of the mères. their cooking relied essentially on local Chef Monique Salera cooking in her restaurant La Dame d’Aquitaine in Dijon. WOMEN CHEFS There have been a few notable exceptions to the gender divide in professional cooking. The mères are associated especially with the Lyon area. early in the twentieth. Some of their restaurants began as tiny establishments that served home-style dishes to feed the canuts (silk-workers) who populated the city. helped by restaurant reviewers and food writers. became quite well known. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier. Until as recently as the mid-twentieth century. In contrast with the elaborate preparations and expensive exotic ingredients used in elite restaurants.

then served with fresh chervil sauce). horseradish. and red wine vinegar). as consumables. rather than by their first and last names. Dishes associated with their restaurants include roasted chicken. a few talented female chefs in prominent restaurants challenge the strong masculine association to good restaurant food. but this also aimed to train women for their roles as mothers and nurturers within the family. restaurant reviewing. in the press. eventually. savory onion tarts. and professional cooking culture that have been actively hostile to seeing women work in professional kitchens. founded in 1912 as a private automobile club whose members sought out restaurants for touring destinations. innovative.Cooking 95 ingredients and relatively simple methods.9 In this era a mandate recommended cooking instruction in the public schools. and early promoter of nouvelle cuisine Paul Bocuse is said to have scoffed at the capacity of female cooks for refined. In the twentieth century. along with food items. not to mention grande cuisine or haute cuisine. garlic. These chefs were as often as not simply called La Mère … (Mother So-and-So) by their clients and. and cervelle de canuts (“silk-weavers brains”—fresh cheese seasoned with chives. fried. the most widely recognized indicator of quality for a restaurant. the great chef. styles of restaurant cooking . pike quenelles (poached fine-textured fish dumplings) with crayfish sauce. tablier de sapeur (tripe that is marinated. Gastronomy—the knowledgeable appreciation of food—has tended to view women. The group did support teaching women from the popular classes the art of home cooking as part of a more general enseignement ménager (course in domestic economy).11 PROFESSIONAL COOKING Venues for professional cooking vary from local bistros and cafés to the grand restaurants gastronomiques. cooking school students and apprentices working in restaurants note the macho culture and inhospitable climate prevalent in many professional kitchens. bon-vivant. rather than as capable connoisseurs. is to this day open only to men.10 Today. A congress of (male) cooks from throughout France and Algeria that met in Paris in 1893 declared its opposition to the entry of women as apprentices in the great restaurant and hotel kitchens. along with salt. pepper. Several won and many kept for years one or more Michelin stars. Their success flies in the face of traditions of food writing. The exclusive Club des Cent (Hundred Club). chicken poached with morels or truffles. eel stew. or grand cuisine. coated with breadcrumbs. Hostility to the entry of women into the world of professional cooks has long emanated from the ranks of male cooks who feared competition. Today. omelets.

may be cooked in different ways. for instance.96 Food Culture in France range from traditional and regional to the cuisines exotiques (“exotic” cuisines) borrowed from around the world. soft dishes such as a creamy dessert must be accompanied by a dry biscuit for contrast. served with a variety of sauces. an ice (sometimes served as an entremets). Influential transformations occurred in high-end restaurant cooking during the middle and late twentieth century. and early twentieth centuries. Dishes often featured touches such as layers of stuffings and decorative pastry shells.e. between roast and cheese) that often consisted of foie gras. . and rationalizing grand cooking into a clear system. codifying. desserts such as crêpes Suzette were flambéed tableside. He defines its basic elements and rules for combining them. and accompanied by a selection of fillings or garnishes that lend flavor.” i. Cold and hot dishes must alternate. Sweet.. and they added interest to the final presentation. Escoffier’s volume is a grammar of cuisine classique (classical cooking). an entremets (“between dishes. Repetition must be avoided from garnish to vegetable to side dish. a cavernous chamber appointed with industrial strength appliances and staffed by a numerous brigade (contingent of kitchen staff) in a large hotel. Until as late as the 1970s. yet clearly related to other dishes with which it may be paired or contrasted to compose a full meal. a roast. The menus available on a daily basis in wealthy houses and in grand restaurants were for banquets. dessert. Staff performed numerous tasks. nineteenth. Fish and meat must not be combined in the same dish: they belonged in separate courses. The peak of success for grand cooking came at the turn of the twentieth century and is best reflected in the Guide culinaire (1903) of Auguste Escoffier. in some cases to finish the cooking. Each combination pulled from the matrix is a specific dish with its own name. a hot appetizer or hors-d’oeuvre followed by a relevé that was seasoned to provide flavor contrast. A proper meal in the grand style consisted of potage or soup. or something in between. a salad. These elements were assembled before the cooking. and coffee. dishes were served en salle (in the dining room). a variety of entrées or first courses. The workspace may be a tiny room that differs little from a home kitchen. The style of cooking that underpins today’s school curricula and that takes place in fine-dining restaurants emerged from the aristocratic traditions of the great houses and from court cuisine as well as from their continuations by private cooks in bourgeois houses of the eighteenth. and waiters served from full-sized platters that they carried around the table. A given cut of meat. The découpage (carving) was carried out in the dining room. Rules for menu composition imposed balance and variety. cheese.

or gésier (gizzard) confit. elements of nouvelle cuisine such as the emphasis on fresh ingredients and clear flavors are part of the culinary lexicon of nearly every discerning chef. Unconventional combinations appeared. plat. As chefs traveled abroad and as immigrants from the former colonies introduced new foods and ingredients. . and dessert. Ultimately the meal was simplified to today’s standard of three courses: entrée (first course). the grand serving platters disappeared. Service was now à l’assiette (by individual plate). chefs initiated a kind of control and direct contact with individual diners by plating food in the kitchen. Chicken and shrimp brochettes (grilled on skewers) were an innovation.Cooking 97 As chefs asserted their autonomy. “exotics” from kiwis to couscous further inflected French cooking. They now preferred fruit and vegetable purées and reductions. A fish preparation from the Troisgros kitchen shows the influence of nouvelle cuisine. magret de canard (breast of duck). and they sought to make food taste as fresh as possible. transformations traceable to about mid-century pushed food and service in the direction of contemporary practice. Chefs brought together items formerly separated into different courses and began to use ingredients formerly excluded from elegant cooking. In 1973. Foie gras moved from the end of the meal to the start as a first course or entrée. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. Chefs rejected as heavy and antiquated the overuse of preparations such as the roux (flour cooked in butter. Beginning in the 1950s. a thickening liaison used as a sauce base. to which liquid is added). the food critics and guidebook authors Henri Gault and Christian Millau called the new style nouvelle cuisine (new cuisine) and became its outspoken champions. as was green salad topped with slices of foie gras. Today.

striking mixtures of foreign and local ingredients and methods. truffle. Chefs in a variety of contexts adopt new materials and industrial techniques. In some cases.98 Food Culture in France Post-modern food from the Troisgros kitchen: pasta with a mushroom. quirky approach to highly refined cooking that is also creative. In the 1990s. casual restaurant kitchens exploit industrial innovations: pre-prepared vegetables. the proponents of la jeune cuisine (young cuisine) take a personal. a kind of comfort food. they attach to a political ideology that seeks to resist or attenuate outside influences and to affirm a local or regional identity. with their old hierarchies and structures. Relatively simple establishments serving well-prepared. everyday fare provide a steady continuo beneath the elaborate melodies of fashion and fad. and cream sauce deconstructed into its component parts. Outspoken fusion cuisine. Instead. a group of chefs published a manifesto protesting the encroachment of globalizing influences and praising all things native and local. or deliberately conservative. a nouvelle vague (new wave) of young cooks with outstanding credentials from apprenticeships in top kitchens has moved beyond the domain of Michelin-starred restaurants. such as cooking sous vide (“in a vacuum”). Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. dehydrated fonds de sauce (sauce bases). economy. Within the last five years. occupies a relatively small space in France. Varieties of cuisine du terroir focus on native ingredients and dishes. even ludic. as a matter of principle. offers familiar. precooked items. For convenience. A piece of food enclosed in a sealed bag or container is cooked at a relatively low . Several distinct trends are at work in contemporary restaurant cooking. characterized by bold. nostalgic. These menus may be authentic. or to compensate for insufficient staff. Cuisine de tradition. even homely dishes to eaters whose nostalgia for home cooking finds no answer in a fast-paced lifestyle or perhaps in living alone.

The first decade of the nineteenth century. More recently.Cooking 99 temperature. reported on restaurants and food items ostensibly as he experienced them. COOKING AND THE MEDIA French food has long been known for its special éclat (sparkle and glamour). restaurants multiplied. standards of quality can be guaranteed. publicists. As political and social structures evolved (highlighted by the Revolution of 1789). however. Contained within the yearly publication entitled the Almanach des Gourmands (Gourmands’ Almanac. leitmotif. histories. agricultural and medical treatises. such works as domestic tracts and novels have done the same. Geography or budget may prevent one from visiting an outstanding restaurant in a neighboring province. Since the early nineteenth century. as well as giving their addresses. and a new food publishing industry gained impressive momentum. fashion in food emanated from grand houses and the royal court.12 To be sure. and according to precise timing. ritual. and the scope of their activities has increased. 1803–1812). with little added liquid. Durable print extended the life and reach of ephemeral edibles. food sellers) and consumers (eaters. and the chef is spared worry. Through the eighteenth century. variety. chefs and food producers interact intensively with writers. Today. the reputation and prominence of French cuisine within the country and beyond is due not only to the excellence and variety of the food but also to the elaboration of discourses about that food. Since antiquity. and poems have treated aspects of food culture as a primary subject or ancillary topic. saw important innovations in food writing. the players in the various culinary and gastronomic spheres have multiplied. and shared enjoyment. interest. legitimacy. His judgments also affected the subsequent activities of chefs and caterers concerned to receive favorable reviews. along with conviviality. and stakes for the other. and knowledge derive from reading a newspaper review of the restaurant. and consumers. the results are predictable. the prevalent associations are quality. But other pleasure. . Here. readers. and coherence. notably the first modern-style narrative food guide and food periodical. the first narrative food guide judged Parisian restaurants for quality. As in the United States. In principle. or obsessive theme. The guide author. Each reinforced the importance. paeans to the pleasures of the table are ancient. the activities of producers (cooks. Over two centuries. Grimod de la Reynière. writers) exerted a mutual influence. Since the seventeenth century it has enjoyed tremendous prestige. This back-and-forth democratizes food cultures and also serves to legislate and regulate standards of taste and quality.

NOTES 1. 1982). Morocco.” in Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity. 2006). Gilles Normand. and stimulates the imagination. . There is a marked increase in the recent publication of cookbooks for “exotic” cuisines (of Thailand. From day to day. teaching viewers and readers how to cook and about food. and periodicals devoted to food and cooking. A strong review sends customers flocking in droves to a restaurant. purchasing the chef ’s cookbook. the media extension of food in France is now vast. Histoire des maisons à succursales en France (Paris: Union des entreprises modernes. These chefs have taken themselves out of the running for prestigious honors. As in the United States. 2005). editor Thomas M. The mediatization of cuisine encourages participation. Wilson (Oxford: Berg. The power of critics is so strong that a few chefs at the most elevated end of the cooking spectrum have rebelled. Marion Demossier. They ignore as interference the mediating roles of critic and reporter to please themselves and their clients directly. too. A critical piece banishes the chef to culinary and economic purgatory. Yet the response of writers and critics influences cooks. in order to cook by their own lights. and perhaps making some of his recipes at home. 1983. or Japan) or focusing on clearly foreign foodstuffs (from Anglo muffins or scones to Chinese wok dishes). 1936). 4. in other words. France in the 1980s (New York: Penguin. Some have stated their lack of interest in the distinction of a Michelin star and chosen to prepare food that expresses a personal preference or philosophy. The phenomenon indexes the social prestige of food connoisseurship in an affluent society. John Ardagh. to conform. Amy Jacobs (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. A newspaper column influences home cooks seeking ideas for dinner. An everlarger number of cookbooks are available in bookstores. The interactions of food producers and consumers further shape and regulate—prescribe and proscribe—standards of quality and concepts of good taste. providing a space for fantasy in which the dining table is a vanishing point in the far distance.100 Food Culture in France watching a televised interview with the chef. 2. it is the home cooks and restaurant chefs who serve up continuity and creativity on the plate. trans. “Consuming Wine in France: The ‘Wandering’ Drinker and the Vin-anomie. food-related Web sites and databases. Michèle de la Pradelle. Market Day in Provence. They refuse. It includes food shows on television. 396–405. 139. 3.

9. 20. 8. Drouard. “Ces dames au ‘piano.Cooking 101 5.” American Journal of Sociology 104. 7. “Guerre des sexes au fourneau!. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. La Reynière [Robert Courtine]. Patrick Rambourg.” L’Histoire 273 (February 2003): 25–26. “A Cultural Field in the Making: Gastronomy in 19th-Century France. 2006). 2004). trans. 54. Drouard. 2004). . Histoire de l’alimentation: Quels enjeux pour la formation? (Dijon: Educagri. 131 and passim in Julia Csergo and Christophe Marion. 133.. Histoire des cuisiniers en France XIXe-XXe siècle (Paris: CNRS. 2004). 10. 1977). no. 6.’” Le Monde (May 21. Drouard. Alain Drouard. 3 (November 1998): 597–641 and Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 11. Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Boston: Brill. 12. eds. Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox.


the familiar structure frames conversation and reinforces the separation of mealtime from the hustle and bustle of the day. is especially conducive to relaxed enjoyment at table. although for different groups of people. and fromage or dessert) or may consist of a sandwich eaten on the run. The evening meal is looked forward to as a respite from the day’s work. At noon. long the main meal for many people. and income. and as an opportunity to enjoy the sensual pleasures of food and drink. plat. Because both men and women work outside the home. for example. . MEAL TIMES Today’s standard three meals evolved over centuries. The petit déjeuner (breakfast). dinner is often the only weekday meal for which the whole family can gather together at table. As the service of dishes progresses.4 Typical Meals Three meals each day is typical in France. is insubstantial. as a time to see family members. taken in the morning before school or work. is now an important meal. region.1 Elites might eat twice daily. may still be substantial and served in three courses (entrée. Seasonal changes and religious observance also played a role. eating schedules varied greatly according to profession. at about 8 P. From one to four meals daily was common. The structure of the French meal.. Through the late nineteenth century.M. with its unfolding sequence of courses. the déjeuner (lunch). The dîner.

after accomplishing the morning’s work.104 Food Culture in France and manual laborers up to four times each day. a second. the sense of leisure. as larger numbers of people cultivated the leisurely enjoyment of carefully prepared. the mid-day dîner (or collation). again soup or light stew. the custom of privileging the evening dîner gained in the nineteenth century. A smaller meal (le souper). The name suggests that the presence for a déjeuner of items other than liquid soup. but in the countryside the word souper is still used to mean the evening meal. Despite the importance of the mid-day meal. Because the first substantial meal was now relatively late. might be added in the early evening. this meal could also include meat and wine. was often a working meal in the sense of today’s business lunches. For those who ate all four meals. and convivial enjoyment that accompanies the working-class. By the 1890s. supper was the most substantial meal. As industrial jobs increased in number and urban populations became larger. material comfort. that is. The déjeuner à la fourchette. Today. and then finally the souper. the morning déjeuner and mid-day dîner each migrated later in the day.2 As recently as the late eighteenth century. the population of villagers and rural dwellers is small. then called the déjeuner (“to break the fast”). Affluence also made significant social reforms possible. the light goûter or snack. the mid-day meal was sometimes called a déjeuner à la fourchette (fork luncheon). the déjeuner might be practically the only nourishment throughout the day. technological modernization and the massive exodus from villages and rural areas to cities transformed society. most likely made of vegetables and grains. or coffee was still somewhat remarkable. wine. possibly quite elaborate and luxurious meals in a sociable setting. For those in modest circumstances. middle-class and modern bourgeois family dinner makes an equally important contribution to quality of life. including the month of paid vacation given to salaried workers since 1965 (converted to five weeks in 1981) and the 35-hour workweek instituted in the late 1990s. The demographic and industrial shift resulted in the shared work schedule that now prevails. The professional classes preferred to eat a large déjeuner at noon or one o’clock. Today. For agricultural workers who stayed in the fields all day long and for those who worked far from home. School and most work schedules are designed to allow . usually consisted of soup. smaller déjeuner was added to tide over appetites until mid-day. if they were available. this early meal was called le petit (small) déjeuner. By the early nineteenth century. and bread. there was the déjeuner. the first meal. but this was not consistent. which included meat and required the use of a fork and knife. The names used today for the three meals recall how practices have changed over time. After the Second World War.

there is a strong shared feeling of the rhythm of the day. The community aspect of meals strengthens social ties and even the sense of equality. making the meal an expression of shared values. and a finished dish. This is a convenient way to clean the plate between courses if the plates are not changed. others do not keep late evening hours. Nonetheless. or a cooked salad. be it ever so simple. poultry.Typical Meals 105 breaks for meals. so that both ingredients end up tasting even better. An entrée or first course might consist of soup. freedom from the ritual of the family meal may be experienced as an opportunity to develop a more individual lifestyle.M. or simply impossible to achieve. peppery. with perhaps a fruit or sweet to finish. a plate of crudités (raw vegetables) served with a vinaigrette dressing. Bread is placed on the table throughout the meal. or fish. STRUCTURE OF A MAIN MEAL The dishes that make up a main meal appear in a succession of separate courses. crisp. larger numbers of people living alone. Many think that to eat “all alone” (manger tout seul) is sad. Eating is considered a convivial activity par excellence. small pieces of bread are used to sop up sauces and salad dressings. Because most people throughout the country take meals at about the same time. and balance and harmony are sought when planning a meal. so that staff have evenings free. As a culture. As in many countries. Factors such as the fast pace of modern life. so the appetite is not overwhelmed by the succession of different edibles. This is followed by a plat principal or main dish. Especially in the younger generation. becomes more than the sum of its parts. Afterward comes a green tossed salad and a cheese course. such as an omelet. the French place a high value on sociability and community. and people take a slice or break off a piece of a loaf as desired. outmoded. Although the practice is frowned on in polite (such as bourgeois) circles. The French palate prefers rich and deep flavors over sharp or spicy ones. as well as to enjoy every last drop of the sauce. Edibles seek complements. the family meal is at times a locus of tension. the family meal or a full meal with friends or colleagues is a central feature of daily life. Portions are small. that food tastes better when it is shared. to reopen in the afternoon at 1:30 or 2:00 P. fresh radishes are balanced . Some shops and offices close at mid-day. although others worry about a decline of traditional ways and deterioration of the social fabric. A main dish usually contains meat. and the replacement or disappearance of the nuclear family as the defining social unit. For a summer seasonal entrée. make the family meal seem for some irrelevant.. it may consist of eggs.

there is a self-consciousness about making them. dense slice of foie gras cries out for a spoonful of sweettart currant or gooseberry preserve. the whole thing accompanied by bread—the foods are nonetheless organized within the traditional structure. Sweets are saved for the end of a meal. Whether or not the practice coincides with eating custom in the country of origin of the food itself. and likely described as eating sur le pouce (in a hurry). and interest in eating lighter. plats. The expectations for a proper meal color perceptions of other forms of eating. Eating a sandwich for a quick lunch would not be called taking a meal. many people. Another important feature of French meals is the distinction between savory and sweet. A hot main dish may be followed by a crisp.106 Food Culture in France with creamy dairy butter spread on fresh bread and finished with a sprinkling of salt. much less a proper meal. but simply referred to as eating. which is still present in miniature. Structuring the main meal in courses is both a typical practice and also an ideal for eating well. menus will group dishes into entrées. the clean acidity of tomato and the aroma of anise seed complement the sweet marine flavors in a fish soup. followed by cheese. smaller meals for health reasons mitigate against preparing and eating the full succession of courses. For the morning meal adults drink café au lait. Any one of several methods is used for brewing the coffee fresh: the paper filter method in an electric coffee maker or stove-top glass cone. as one is refusing what is traditional and expected. Although such substitutions are common. Thai. Such factors as cost. Similarly. replace the cheese course with a light alternative such as yogurt. a dash of . and desserts and vary the portions accordingly. or a stove-top Moka device that forces water up through ground coffee by steam pressure. cool salad. It is unusual to mix salty and sweet flavors within a single dish. If a meal is abbreviated on a busy weeknight—say. For a main dish. and so on) adapt their menus to follow French custom. which are thought of as substitutions or deviations. Moroccan. lack of time. When eating at home. heated milk poured with strong hot coffee into a hemispherical bowl. Chinese. People sometimes add a pinch of salt. BREAKFAST The petit déjeuner is light and simple. especially women concerned with weight gain. pared down to a hearty composed salad as a main dish. a French press that allows ground coffee to release its fragrance into freshly boiled water before a dense hard filter is lowered in to separate out the grounds. restaurants serving a foreign cuisine (Vietnamese. A rich. Durable combinations of flavors and textures are sought.

and at about 10:30 A. It is the hot milk in the café au lait or café crème that is considered the nourishing part of the breakfast. Un café.. or a spoon of cocoa powder to the ground coffee to vary or balance the flavor. or it may be provided by the parents of each child for the whole class on a rotating schedule. is eaten along with the coffee.M. Dunking the bread or pastry into the coffee is a beloved practice. In cities. The healthconscious add a glass of fruit juice or a serving of yogurt to their breakfast. On late weekend mornings. people do not eat a large breakfast. An effort is made to provide foods that are considered healthful and appropriate for the late morning: bread and cheese. honey. Processed cereals such as corn flakes or puffed rice eaten with cold milk are now popular enough that grocery stores stock them. break for la collation du matin. Restaurant-style machines for making coffee by steam pressure are available for use at home. After the breakfast café au lait. jam. also called un petit café or un petit noir. instant coffee such as Nescafé is dissolved by stirring into hot milk. COFFEE BREAKS Working people and students take a break (une pause) in the morning or afternoon to drink small cups of strong coffee. the small amount of food eaten for breakfast accompanies the café au lait. The snack is brought from home. but le brunch is considered an exotic meal. Alternatively.Typical Meals 107 cinnamon. any coffee drunk at other times of day is taken without milk. although it is not considered a sustaining beverage. In recent years tea has become more popular. MORNING SNACK Children begin the school day at 8:30 A. or a piece of fruit such as an apple. Children drink hot chocolate. or Nutella to make a tartine. with its pleasing dark brown color and nutty flavor. pastry such as croissants or brioche (from yeasted dough enriched with butter) replaces plain bread. including many of the American brands. and these are well liked by connoisseurs. a few restaurants serve brunch. but simply drink coffee or nothing at all and eat a regular lunch. A piece of bread.M. For weekend breakfasts or a special treat. the morning snack. The depth and large diameter of the café au lait bowl are accommodating for this purpose. is served in a demi-tasse . into their morning hot milk. such as a section of baguette spread with butter. Those who seek to avoid caffeine stir powdered roasted chicory root. a small sandwich made of buttered bread with a slice of ham. quite out of the ordinary. fruit yogurt.

as food is. of course.M. About 66 percent of primary school children take lunch at school. stronger and smaller. that is. so that a bit of leisure is built into the work day. The few sips of strong coffee are considered outside the range of foods and meals. As of the . or at a more leisurely pace sitting at a table. either prepared on the premises if there is a full kitchen facility. if one is in a hurry..e. This ruling was based on the assumption that children ate the main meal at home in the evening. so that their child qualifies to eat lunch at school. a very small cup). to accommodate parents’ work schedules. or hired by the school from a catering company. a coffee can be drunk standing up at a counter. or allongé (“stretched out”). Since the break is substantial.” i. LUNCH Lunch is between noon and about 2 P.M. however. and the school lunch was often extremely simple.108 Food Culture in France (“half-cup. to 1:30 P. public schools were required to provide half of the day’s nutritional requirements through the school lunch.. have a cantine or cafeteria that provides a full. or until 2:00 P. such as a cold plate of sandwiches or charcuterie. it is common to specify a preference for coffee that is serré (dense). with schools scheduling a full two hours for the mid-day meal and pause and many businesses allowing a similar break. according to taste.M. and at airports and highway rest stops. Schools.M. Both parents must provide proof of their employment status. cups of coffee can be purchased from vending machines that grind the beans and brew a fresh cup.M. made with more water. It is taken plain or with sugar. The break is long enough to allow for a relaxed meal and for socializing with colleagues. friends. if the day ends at 5 P. with less water used relative to the amount of ground coffee. like businesses. The small coffees are not seen as nourishing. the work day and school day extend relatively late into the afternoon. In cafés. schools are required to provide lunch for children whose parents both work or whose parents are unemployed but seeking work. Lunch at School Primary schools schedule the lunch break from about 11:30 A. At many businesses and high schools. Starting in the early 1970s. In a café. there is some variation in these times across the country. Recent demographic and nutritional information has led to changed recommendations. or if the coffee is being made at home with a restaurantstyle machine.. or family. By law emanating from the Ministry of Education. hot meal. but rather as revivifying.

underwrite the effort. which in turn assists in the development of a national identity and to maintain the culture. It also betrays concerns about the demise of national cultural identity in the era of Europeanization and . to what degree schools should cater to students unable to eat the standard fare because of religious background. In learning how to eat “well. Since the early 1980s. a meat or fish dish accompanied by cooked vegetables. according to organization at the local level.” how to eat a “proper” meal. and bread. and the need to balance nutritional concerns with commercial pressures. a dessert. the municipal jurisdiction or city oversees lunch preparations. School lunches vary in character and quality. they learn principles for maintaining good health and understanding food safety. Thus school meals are legislated as sites for taste education. it is assumed that the rest comes from breakfast (20 percent). following the current norm. however. A prevalent worry is how to promote milk and water over soft drinks and to ensure that children consume adequate fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid too much fat and sugar. The educational effort extends even to the adult population. school lunch consists of an entrée of a salad or vegetable.Typical Meals 109 year 2000. restaurants offer traditional meals at reduced prices.3 In theory the school meal serves more than simply the nutritional needs of children and adolescents. At table. and dinner (30 percent). Professional chefs leave their restaurants to teach lessons about food. In primary schools and nursery schools. In learning to eat balanced meals. cooking. At issue today are interest in organizing cantines to include local and regional foods. the annual Semaine du goût or Week of Taste held every October since 1991 represents another means of promoting culinary and gastronomic education in schools. perceived as insufficiently knowledgeable in the culinary heritage of their own country. and the regional authority takes on responsibility for high school meals. The school lunch is a topic of ongoing debate. During the Semaine du goût.4 The establishment of the Week of Taste owes much to the corporate interests that. along with the government. Generally. school lunches must provide 40 percent of daily nutritional needs. a snack (10 percent). children develop social and communication skills. Culinary Heritage in Schools If ideological concerns shape the school lunch. and eating in public secondary schools. they learn to understand and appreciate food. The département or prefecture is in charge of organizing meals for secondary schools. official statements from the Ministry of Education have noted the importance of meals for education.

The cantine is generally set up cafeteria-style. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. commonly called the cantine (canteen). Lunch in a company cantine is relatively inexpensive. a hot main dish. cooked vegetables. One selects the components of a full meal. water and coffee. Students are wearing the protective cleanroom garments that butchers put on when they break down carcasses. salads. cheese. yogurt. as companies subsidize meals there. Lunch at Work Many businesses offer some sort of meal subsidy to employees as a benefit. placing the dishes on a tray: bread. Yet the Semaine du goût also manifests a democratic. globalization. universalistic idea. Another way that businesses subsidize their employees’ . wine and beer. like reading and mathematics. where the same meal would cost two to three times this price in a restaurant. fruit.110 Food Culture in France Butchers wearing the asymmetrical aprons of their trade distribute samples of roast beef during a school taste class. The cultivation of taste and the pleasure of eating well. where employees eat lunch. Businesses of substantial enough size and nearly every large corporation have an in-house restaurant de l’entreprise (company restaurant). are a matter of education and should be accessible to all. An employee may pay in the neighborhood of 3 to 5 Euros for a full meal in the cantine.

Eating when one is not hungry is seen as excessive. people bring lunch from home. and perhaps an apple. as children find the wait from lunch until dinner too long to tolerate comfortably. The goûter is similar to the morning collation. paying about 3 Euros for a coupon worth 5. To eat well (bien manger. at a traiteur or caterer’s to buy prepared food to take out. a crushed soft fresh fruit such as an apricot or peach sprinkled with a bit of sugar and eaten on a piece of toast. a tartine spread with jam or honey. manger correctement) or to eat “normally” (manger normalement) means sticking to the three main meals. from biscuits (plain butter cookies or the same thing covered with chocolate) and gâteaux (individual portions of sponge cake with chocolate) to Kinder (the brand name and generic moniker of chocolate covered wafers. pain perdu (French toast.M. return home. timed to coincide with the end of the parents’ workday. or a pastry. or raisins). or to purchase food from the charcutier and in other food shops. nuts. At table people may . a tartine.. AFTERNOON SNACK Every day children look forward to the goûter or afternoon snack that marks their return home from school. for example. or “lost” stale bread that is brought back to life by soaking in eggs and milk. and a glass of fruit juice or milk. a piece of freshly baked pastry.Typical Meals 111 meals is through the ticket-restaurant. and conversationally catch up on the day’s news. snacking in general is frowned on for adults. but is more likely to consist of something sweet: bread and a piece of chocolate or some Nutella. If no cantine is available. eating a variety of foods thought to be reasonably healthful. High-school students and adults may take a coffee or a cup of tea in the late afternoon.M. or take lunch in a restaurant. To tempt the youthful sweet tooth there are any number of produits industriels (packaged or processed products). or in some areas as late as 5:00 or 6:00 P. Snacking versus Eating Well Beyond the collation and goûter given to children. a piece of fruit that can be eaten out of hand. then sautéing in butter). a yogurt.. Employees purchase coupons from their companies at a discount. reestablish contact after the separation of the afternoon or entire day. The snack is partially a matter of practical necessity. Schools and the garderie (child care) usually let out at 4:30 P. The voucher is used like a traveler’s check in restaurants. as one of several ways of eating poorly. and eating in moderation. It is also a way for parents to welcome their children home after school.

and finish with a green salad and a piece of cheese. salt. whiskey. whether lunch or (more commonly) dinner. such as salmon and tuna. baked savory biscuits. but for more leisurely meals on weekends or holidays. the practice of snacking has increased. The word is significant. Children drink a sirop such as mint or barley syrup poured over ice and mixed with water. but the onus connected with it has not diminished. broiling. Some sort of food accompanies the apéritif. that they are eating par gourmandise. Apéritif Drinking an apéritif or cocktail before a full meal. Many families . Since the late eighteenth century. Nonetheless. gourmand. Yet the term derives from gourmandise or gluttony. Bread is eaten throughout the meal to accompany each course. progress to a portion of sautéed onglet (similar to hangar steak) garnished with butter. as eating patterns change to accommodate long commutes and intensively scheduled work days. like the later word gastronome. some combination of greed and pleasure. Favorite appetizers include toasts or thin slices of bread with rillettes or rounds of sliced hard sausage. as well as fillets of firm-fleshed fish. a kir or sweet white wine such as Muscat or Monbazillac may be served chilled. as if to excuse themselves even as they draw attention to the indulgence as exceptional. a small piece of pissaladière (Provençal pizza topped with caramelized onions). such as steaks and chops. such as sautéing. as well as for whetting the appetite. and mixed drinks are all standard apéritifs for adults. is seen as unnecessary. it is a welcome opening act to a full meal. in recent years. pastis. and pepper and served with some purée (mash) of broccoli or potatoes. Eating outside the setting of the large regular meals of lunch and dinner. or snacking. is enjoyed as an overture to conversation. even antisocial. On busy weekdays.112 Food Culture in France sociably announce as they help themselves to an extra serving of a wellliked dish. has meant a knowledgeable eater. one of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Catholic tradition. WEEKDAY DINNER Busy schedules during the week contribute to the preference for dishes that are relatively quick and simple to prepare and to some abbreviation of the full sequence of courses. the apéritif or apéro often falls by the wayside. In summer. searing. and gougères (baked cheese puffs). and for foodstuffs that respond well to these methods. and grilling. A typical weekday dinner might begin with a salad of grated carrots dressed with mustard vinaigrette. At home. the preference is for fast cooking methods.

The dish has many variations. It is also common to go out for a predinner drink with friends or family before moving on to dinner at a restaurant or returning home to eat. The invitation to prendre un verre or prendre un pot (go out for a drink) is social and understood to mean a drink taken together before dinner. Weekend meals usually consist of the full range of courses and include a before-dinner drink. including browning the meat before adding the liquid. A roast leg of lamb studded with slivers of garlic and rubbed with rosemary branches and served with baked white haricot beans. Historically. and a great deal of socializing takes place as everyone moves about the kitchen. to stay at a second residence or to visit extended family. or a chicken roasted on a bed of sliced onions and carrots. With a weekend party of family or friends. despite the name blanquette. peanuts or cashews. Both are likely to be cooked and eaten at a leisurely pace and in a festive atmosphere. Saturday evening is often reserved for socializing with friends. chips. and Sunday lunch is traditionally a meal taken with family. fish was eaten on Friday evenings for religious reasons. peeled and sliced into rounds . WEEKEND MEALS: SATURDAY DINNER AND SUNDAY LUNCH On the weekend there is more time to create elaborate meals and use slower cooking methods and to linger over the meal with family and friends. Blanquette de veau or d’agneau (white veal or lamb stew) is a dish that people make at home in the spring and for Easter Sunday. but this custom is hardly observed anymore. Many city dwellers will leave town for the day if not the whole weekend. Some of the more elaborate dishes make large quantities of food that require a greater number of eaters to consume them. small salted crackers. are typical centerpieces for weekend meals.5 Veal Stew (Blanquette de veau) • 2 pounds shoulder of veal • 1 large onion • 5 sprigs parsley • 10 peppercorns (whole) • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 5 cloves garlic • 4 cups water • 12 pearl onions.Typical Meals 113 keep crunchy or salty foods on hand as appetizers to lay out in small bowls: olives. there are more hands to help out. peeled • 5 carrots.

pork sausage. A very large pot or multiple pots are required to hold the ingredients. Afterward. onion. such as flank. In the summer.114 • • • • Food Culture in France 2 teaspoons lemon juice 2 large egg yolks 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/2 pound mushrooms. veal. The water should just cover the other ingredients. Vegetables added to the pot include carrots. sirloin. parsley. Enjoy the stew hot with rice or boiled potatoes. then reduce heat and simmer gently for 60 minutes. Stir a ladle of broth into the egg yolks and cream to temper the mixture. and leeks. Add the pearl onions and carrots. The flavorful broth is served as a first course. garlic. peppercorns. and simmer 15 minutes more. and tailbones (oxtail) or a marrow bone. Stir in the lemon juice. a slow-simmered poule-au-pot (stuffed chicken stewed with vegetables). Beat the eggs yolks and cream together. Strain the broth. Pot-au-feu (“pot on the fire”) derives its flavor from the combination of three or more whole cuts of meat that are cooked together with a few vegetables and herbs. Bring to a boil. celery. for a main course consisting of grilled meats such as spicy merguez. A weekend meal often ends with a bought pastry such as a cake or fruit tart from a pâtissier. the meats are sliced and arranged on platters. Regional variations add other meats than beef. or lamb. then pour it into the reduced broth. Other traditional preparations having any number of regional variations include daube (beef stew). Place the veal. cleaned and sliced. and served moistened with a bit of the cooking . chicken. then sautéed in butter Cut the veal into 2-inch pieces. salt. preserved duck (confit de carnard). such as ham. onions. continuing to stir over very gentle heat until the sauce thickens. then simmer until it reduces by about one-third. bacon. and pearl onions to a serving dish. and steaks. turnips. Test to make sure the veal is tender. Arrange the cooked mushrooms on top as a garnish. and water in a saucepan. Taste for seasoning. Parsley or the selection of herbs called bouquet garni is added as well. carrots. which usually include a combination of fattier and leaner meats. outdoor barbecues are popular for weekend gatherings. Reduce the heat under the broth so it nearly stops simmering. then pour the sauce over the meat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat. which adds to the sense of occasion. and pot-au-feu (mixed boiled meats). It should not boil. potatoes.

as well as other alcohols. Simple Onion Soup (Soupe à l’oignon) • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter • 6 cups coarsely chopped onion • 3 1/2 cups water or broth • 1/2 cup white wine • salt • pepper . In other cases. capers. Wine is considered an essential component of a good meal. The extra effort is made out of respect for the guest but also to do honor to the hosts. will be selected in anticipation of having guests. be it oysters on the half-shell. Although water is the most common beverage at the dinner table. and so on that the hosts can afford. The full sequence of courses will be carefully prepared and attention given to buy the best ingredients. this is a treasured sign of intimacy. coarse sea salt. The same principle of balance that guides the choices of foods in a meal also applies to selecting pairings of wine and food. A late souper or supper may consist of nearly anything: a dish of pasta or a composed salad made at home. and small glasses of after-dinner liqueurs. or sour condiments: mustard. After the meal. grated horseradish. pigs’ feet boiled then roasted to a golden brown in the oven. LATE SUPPERS After going out to the movies or the theatre. or a cold plate of local charcuterie. ENTERTAINING AT HOME: MEALS FOR GUESTS When close friends are invited to share the regular family meal. cheeses.Typical Meals 115 broth. all stops are pulled for guests invited into the home. and it is certainly a symbol for the successful middle-class lifestyle. there may be little extra ceremony. Inevitably pot-au-feu gives leftovers that can be reheated for another meal or transformed into other dishes. The tender. a bottle or bottles of wine. A hot soup such as onion is appreciated as a restorative at any hour of the night after going out. salty. the specialty of a favorite late-night bistro. richly succulent meat is balanced with pungent. people may make a very late meal at home or eat in one of the relatively few restaurants that keep late hours. such as a cold salad or a baked meat tourte. or after a day of skiing during a winter vacation. coffee may be offered. cornichons (small sharp pickles). mild.

eds. 5. 373–87 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. preferably a dense-crumbed. eds.” pp. “Les heures des repas en France avant le XIXe siècle. Ladle on the onion broth. 1994). 275–323 in Aymard. melt the butter over low heat. crusty variety • 1/4 cup olive oil • 3 cups Gruyère cheese. Adam Sage. Serve bubbling hot. “La Semaine du goût. and Françoise Sabban. Le Temps de manger: Alimentation. and Sabban. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. NOTES 1.. if you prefer. 1994).116 Food Culture in France • 6 slices of day-old bread. 2000). Jean Claude Ribaut. 1993).” pp.” pp. grated In a saucepan. Jean-Louis Flandrin. cover. 4. emploi du temps et rythmes sociaux (Paris: Editions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme and INRA. and sprinkle on the grated cheese to garnish. Isabelle Téchoueyres. 1993). and bake about 10 minutes. ladle the soup into individual ramekins or a tureen that can go in the oven. preface by Patrick Rambourg (Paris: Jean-Paul Rocher. and simmer gently for 45 minutes. “La quatrième édition de la semaine du goût. and Michele Aulagnon and Vincent Charbonnier. Claude Grignon. Jean-Louis Flandrin.” Le Monde (October 15. place a crouton in the bottom of each soup bowl. Toward the end of cooking they should form a soft mass and be uniformly brown in color. For the croutons. La blanquette de veau: Histoire d’un plat bourgeois.” Le Monde (October 23. 2003). “Eating at School in France: An Anthropological Analysis of the Dynamics and Issues Involved in Implementing Public Policy. Or. place on a baking sheet. “French turn up noses at their own food.” Le Monde (October 20. stirring occasionally. 2. Grignon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium to bring the mixture to a simmer. 197–225 in Maurice Aymard. 2002). until golden.. “La règle. Uncover the pot. Add the water or broth and the wine. To serve the soup. Claude Grignon. preheat the oven to 350° F. Bake 20 minutes at 450° F to melt and brown the cheese. la mode et le travail: La genèse social du modèle des repas français contemporain.” The Times of London (October 14. 3. Add the onions. Brush the bread slices with olive oil. . and cook for about 45 minutes. “Parlons goût” and “À palais ouverts.

At present. cuisines from other nations and cultures. household spending on eating out increased . Nonetheless. An estimate from 2004 calculated 9 billion meals out taken annually.1 In the past. .7 billion meals in cafeterias and other collective settings and 4.25 percent. Restaurant offerings are varied. and expenditure for food to be eaten at home fell by a full 7 percent. the wish for social interaction. or one meal out every three days. such as the United Kingdom. Of these people ate 3. Between 1970 and 1990. especially in urban areas. yet traditions of eating out go back centuries. the lack of space and tools for cooking.6 billion in commercial restaurants. The current practice of taking meals in commercial restaurants is the result of affluence and the incursion of work into mealtime. the average is 120 meals outside of the home yearly. from fine restaurants gastronomiques to fast-food restaurants and chains. The French do not eat outside of the home as frequently as residents of some nations with a comparable standard of living. if not as quickly as in some affluent nations.5 Eating Out Eating at home is the norm for most people on most days. and the practice is typical. novelty establishments where the interest lies as much with atmosphere as with food. and fast food and chains contribute to the restaurant scene. and the need for a public location to transact business motivated people to eat outside of the home. Traditional or regional bills of fare. the trend to take meals outside of the home increases perceptibly in France.

crème de marrons (chestnut cream). In the summer. Nutella. cold stands or trucks for ice cream are popular among children. jam-like apple sauce)—can be purchased in the street. Niç ois socca is the delicate-textured. out of trucks. purée de pommes (thick. boulangeries open up their storefronts to display squares of pizza and triangles of quiche. Pizza can also be purchased from stationary trucks. Regions have their own specialties that vendors sell at stands. nutty-flavored savory pancake made of chickpea flour that is served up blistering hot directly from a round griddle. . In parks. or from narrow windows and counters that open up directly onto the street. urban areas. the whole richly The sign for Jean-Pierre Coumont’s ice-cream and sorbet in Saint Tropez (Var) indicates that they are hand-made by the sellers using pure fruits and no food colorings. During the summer.118 Food Culture in France STREET FOODS Although it is not necessary for most people today to eat in the street. black olives. never lack for food to tempt those on foot. In the cities of the South. baguette filled with tuna. tomato wedges. ice cream stores open windows that face onto the street so that one can line up for a cone. and slices of hard boiled egg. Crêpes with a choice of fillings—sugar. in particular. Courtesy of Janine Depoil. the favorite sandwich is pan bagnat.

and some choice of food. nonsmokers are often seated right next to fumeurs (smokers). or comfortable. The term bistro (or bistrot) is thought to have appeared in the 1880s. The habit of smoking sociably while drinking and even eating dies hard. Cafés may have an elegant. apple. The fusty. The interdiction is seen by many as an infringement on personal freedom. Cafés open early in the morning serve tartines (buttered bread. The latter may be freshly squeezed from citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons. or simply watch people and the world go by. Today there is little that is more typical than to sit in a café to talk with friends. hot coffee mixed with heated milk. grungy. chic. In practice. the barrier dividing the two being quite imaginary and certainly ineffective. Its etymology is unclear. syrups. Smoking in public places has been illegal since 1992. It may . vendors sell hot roasted or boiled chestnuts and paper cones of freshly toasted peanuts made crunchy with delicately caramelized sugar. one chooses a bottled juice. flavored. as one eats. Many cafés serve wine. or a regular Sunday afternoon bingo game that neighborhood residents attend. however. beer. or studious atmosphere. A more old-fashioned sort of café may have a football table for baby-foot. a lane for bowling running the length of the café.Eating Out 119 laced with olive oil. BISTROS. CAFÉS As variations on earlier establishments. mixed with soy.2 In recent years. whole. often they are simple and unpretentious. usually baguette) and pastries such as croissants along with café crème. alcohols. atmosphere in some cafés is typically enhanced by clouds of cigarette smoke. During the cold months in the North. and restaurants and cafés are obliged to provide space for non-fumeurs. whether small savory dishes or a selection of pastries. More commonly. and fruit juices. the opening of Starbucks cafés has added a new variety of chain. although levels of smoking are on the decline. AND BRASSERIES Types of restaurants that emerged in the last quarter of the nineteenth century shape today’s culture of eating out. along with the possibility of taking away oversized paper cups of the American-style coffee made to any number of untraditional specifications: decaffeinated. one peels away the waxed paper wrapping that contains the juices. cafés and restaurants emerged during the early modern era. RESTAURANTS. apricot. and tomato are usually on hand. or skim milk. They all serve coffee and some choice of soft drinks. read the paper.

Brasser means to brew beer. Brasseries appeared during the Second Empire. roast chicken. along with a limited menu. The term bistouille used in the North to mean a hearty mixture of brandy and hot coffee is a more likely source. then ended up running restaurants (including the famous Brasserie Lipp and the Café de Flore) and forming a tightly supportive community of regional expatriates based in the capital. beer on tap) and sometimes hard cider. brasseries tend to stay open later than restaurants. but standard popular items include such classics as oysters on the half-shell. and lamb). bistros have been restaurants that serve alcohols and a relatively small selection of foods for one-course meals. unpretentious atmosphere. although a recent trend that blurs this characteristic is for very chic restaurants to call themselves bistros. such as the bouchon in Lyon and winstub in the Alsace region. or seared steak served with French fried potatoes on the side.120 Food Culture in France derive from the injunction to hurry (bystra) up the food that Russians in Paris spoke to waiters. steak-frites. . poire à la belle Hélène or a poached pear served with vanilla ice cream and decorated with chocolate sauce. and a brasserie was a brewery where one went primarily to drink beer. sole meunière. The typical Parisian establishment also has its counterparts in the homey local places for other cities or regions. especially bière à la pression (draft beer. few brasseries brew their own beer. charbougna in the Auvergnat patois). tarte Tatin (caramelized upside-down apple tart). braised chicken or pintade (Guinea fowl) with tarragon sauce. Since the late nineteenth century many Parisian bistros and cafés have been run by bougnats (from charbonnier. a contemporary brasserie is a café or a restaurant that serves drinks. A brasserie alsacienne serving food will offer Alsatian specialties such as cooked sausages. These natives of the Auvergne initially came to Paris to sell coal mined in their region. The term bistro is now used throughout the country for a restaurant. steak tartare. There is a strong association to this term with a warm. choucroute (sauerkraut). Some began selling wine. Many have a distinctly Germanic or Flemish flair. moules marinières (mussels cooked in the shell in a light broth flavored with white wine). increasing in number after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and the development of the train line linking Strasbourg to Paris. and baeckeoffe (a stew with thinly sliced peeled potatoes and a mixture of beef. Rather. Because of the focus on drinking. Brasseries that offer literally hundreds of different bottled and draft beers are sometimes referred to as bars belges (Belgian bars). omelets. flammekeuche (a thin crust like that of a pizza topped with caramelized onion and bits of bacon). pork. comfortable. Historically. purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes). coal burner or porter. Today. Bistros and restaurants have their own specialties or regional inflections.

not vegetable stew) a couple of times each week. later perfected with cans. Buffets de la gare and cafés de la gare became fixtures in train stations. Canned and jarred goods had met with a largely negative reaction throughout the nineteenth century. highend restaurants appeared in the grand hotels. substituting fish (including stockfisch). however. In the notoriously abysmal conditions of the First World War. rice. and soup through the labyrinth of trenches directly to the front line. wine. military doctors intervened. or specialized army cooks. MESS HALLS AND CAFETERIAS For many. Nice. adding ratatouilles (which in this context signified meat stews or ragoûts. and bread. appeared in the eighteenth century. soldiers ate meat. made fashionable other locations such as Cannes. the daily experience of eating outside the home has taken place in a collective setting such as an army mess hall or a cafeteria in school or at work. The late sixteenth century saw the organization of internal units whose task was specifically to provision troops. where Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie regularly wintered. The turn of the century witnessed the spectacular collaborations between chef Auguste Escoffier and the enterprising Swiss hotelier César Ritz. During the lengthy Wars of Religion in the sixteenth century. During the Middle Ages. The pressing need to provision troops constantly on the move under Napoleon was answered by Nicolas Appert’s development of sterile jarring techniques. The diet varied with geography and the circumstances of the hosts who “offered” them bed and board. both private and military cooks and suppliers carried bread. eggs. and more variations on the restaurant theme.Eating Out 121 The rise of trains and then automobiles encouraged travel. Paris still had the lion’s share of elegant dining spots. The new modes of transportation. Where waging war had long been the prerogative of the aristocracy. Today. good restaurants and the finest restaurants gastronomiques or restaurants gourmands are to be found all over the country. and Biarritz. in the north and west of France. Most soldiers subsisted primarily on soup and had to share mess kits. in the countryside and in smaller towns as well as in the cities. Restaurants serving regional specialties and located far from the capital came into fashion.3 Now the . beans. and dairy products on lean days. in fact a compulsory gesture. common soldiers in addition to mercenaries became more numerous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Vivandiers. crusaders were quartered in the towns on their routes. Eventually. During the belle époque and by the start of the twentieth century. the growth of tourism. while sutlers tagged along behind to sell foodstuffs directly to soldiers.

In some medieval collèges. not to mention intellectual exchange.5 Through the end of the nineteenth century. Even in a wealthy school. and 26 percent at hospitals and services related to hospitals. as a young man Auguste Escoffier began his career in the field. the best-fed pupils were often those who could afford to bring a gamelle (metal lunch-pail) from home. the student’s life was sedentary. One was not to cultivate the art of conversation. progressive principles took their effects .6 The development of cafeterias owes to notions of equality traceable to the Revolution of 1789 and to the sense of secular social mission and conception of the public good that was cultivated during the Third and Fourth Republics. This is due to the prestige of fine dining and commercial restaurants. The reformist. This could be placed on the stove for a few minutes at mid-day. and bread. Eating out as a student has ever been a conundrum: one is poor and always hungry. and the ideal of the family meal at home. During the sixteenth century. as there was little in the way of dietary standards or accountability.122 Food Culture in France appearance of a jar of jam or a can of sardines boosted the morale of the beleaguered troops. The French. about 56 percent of meals taken outside the home are taken in an institutional cafeteria. students were deprived of the morning meal. the collèges instituted tables for 16 or 25 students in a salle commune. however. in contrast with the physically extenuating activities of the laborer. with much attention paid to fast days including the long month of Lent and every Friday. conviviality. As a result of the imposed silence and the exigencies of keeping one’s thoughts to sacred themes. It is easy to overlook the central role that cantines—cafeterias in collective settings—have played in daily life for the last century. Officers fared better than their troops. soup. whether of gruel. 34 percent at schools.4 Most often school meals were vegetable soups. such as cabbage. cooking up miracles for French officers participating in the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870. to the detriment of the pupils’ palettes and stomachs. the bursar might divert meal allowances to other purposes. so that the student ate a home-cooked hot meal. Communication was reduced to a sign language specific to the table. on the one hand. however. For centuries. Today. presumably was martyred at the table. with 40 percent of those meals at businesses. Through the early years of the Third Republic (1870–1940). for instance to request the bread. food in schools varied greatly. or stew. on the other. People often have the mistaken impression that taking a meal in a cafeteria is somehow an exceptional practice. rely more on cafeterias than any other nation in Europe. but rather to keep silent throughout the meal while listening to a theological reading. educational institutions were run by the Church.

Eating Out 123 in both schools and business settings. If fewer than 25 employees wished to eat at work. The cafeterias that now serve lunch in nearly every sizeable business grew out of the development of labor unions and codes of workers’ rights. With the allocation of school budgets for cafeterias came strong associations with local politics. the practice of bringing food to school from home declined. Cooperative food stores for workers appeared in the late 1830s. As a practical proviso. it became a matter of necessity for students and workers to eat lunch at school or work. the government encouraged schools to provide warm meals to needy students during the cold months of the school year. as an alternative benefit. Cafeterias took on a new importance in reestablishing the nation’s health and by extension its economic vitality. and workers’ cooperative restaurants organized by trade date to 1848. Cafeterias originated to provide a benefit to workers. This automatically excluded at least one cafeteria meal from many schedules. After the Second World War and the associated problems of malnutrition. cafeterias are subject to lower levels of the TVA or taxe à la valeur ajoutée (VAT or value added tax) than applies to restaurants. Since the 1980s. however. In 1881. their . companies that did not run cafeterias began to offer meal vouchers for use in commercial restaurants. such that companies may view maintaining cafeterias as an unnecessary expense. there must at least be a designated space for doing so. most students take the midday meal at school.7 Not until 1913. then. The cafeteria. Ironically. Schools had to balance issues of cost and efficiency with the wish to highlight typical regional dishes and the need to serve balanced and nutritious meals. did a law decree that companies having at least 25 employees who wished to eat at work must provide an eating area. the Ferry Law mandated that a public school education be made available to all children. liberal or capitalist economic practices have replaced some socialist and protectionist ones. The Aubry Law of 1998 reduced the workweek to a maximum of 35 hours for private companies having more than 20 employees. Thereafter an emendation required that this location be outfitted for reheating food. As cafeterias became common. and this savings is passed on to workers. As nonprofits. Today. was conceived as social intervention on a national scale. a student must demonstrate the need for a school lunch with formal attestations that his or her parents work or are seeking work and are thus unavailable at mid-day to provide lunch at home. The public schools are administered by municipalities. however. albeit slowly. Measuring in terms of the percentage of total meals taken in cafeterias. their use peaked in the late 1970s and has been declining. Beginning in 1967.

EATING OUT AND THE CULINARY HERITAGE Interest in food as connected with particularities of place took on an especially clear definition in the twentieth century. The year of army service used to be obligatory for young men finishing their secondary education. but mandatory conscription ended in 1997. In response. A single star indicates une très bonne table. for festivals or holidays having parades and other outdoor events. the novelist Marcel Rouff and journalist and food writer Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland) assembled the Tour de France Gastronomique published in 24 volumes between 1921 and 1928. The coveted third star indicates a menu of such quality that the restaurant is a worthy travel destination all by itself. with important consequences for eating out. Published travel accounts had been popular since the eighteenth century. established a new Guide pour les chauffeurs et les vélocipédistes (Guide for Drivers and Cyclists) to promote the automobile tourism that would increase their profits. The rankings of the Guide Michelin (today called the Guide Rouge) are defined relative to the road. the tire company Michelin. if now also deeply controversial. Following seventeenth. based in Clermont-Ferrand. Concurrent to the establishment of the Michelin rating system. The title echoes that of the Tour de France bicycle race established in the late nineteenth century. The Michelin stars are still the most widely recognized. a rating system for restaurants was introduced. Gastronomic tourism was now established as a serious undertaking. the Guide Michelin soon came to mention food and wine specialties for each region.and eighteenth-century almanacs that listed boutiques and then restaurants.124 Food Culture in France presence on a company campus or in an office is sometimes now felt as a constraint. for eating in the cafeteria keeps employees in the workplace and discourages lingering over lunch in a leisurely manner. and the first descriptive restaurant guide published in the early nineteenth century. The further distinctions of two and three stars appeared in the early 1930s. Two stars go to a restaurant that vaut le détour (is “worth the detour”) off of the main highway. In 1926. in the form of a star to indicate a good table. In 1900. A few years later and with a different . and there was much to know about the culinary subcultures within the country. and the comprehensive scope is suggestive. of laurels for restaurants. resulting in less use of military cafeterias. and guidebooks such as the Guide Joanne circulated widely in the nineteenth century. and also by providing branded items for companies. the large companies are evolving by catering for sports matches and tournaments. a “very good” table in the elite category.

note the fascination and bankability of the varied food and food customs of the entire country. as part of the economic and cultural rebuilding that followed the Second World War. Underpinning the ministry and legislation was the deep respect for the past.Eating Out 125 collaborator (Augustin Croze). His charge was to promote the héritage or patrimoine culturel (national cultural heritage). food and food mores increasingly became the focus of legislation that sought to institutionalize cultural practice. and it may be said to pursue a . an initiative sponsored jointly by the state and various corporations began bringing chefs into schools for the annual fall Semaine du goût (Week of Taste) that gives children a practical course under professional supervision in eating traditional foods. The state. The document proclaimed the goal to acquaint not only visitors and foreigners but also French citizens themselves—who may be ignorant of their own culture—with aspects of the patrimoine and specifically with “the varied palette of our tables. or principle worth preserving (here. Trésor means an investment. Again. in short. During the second half of the twentieth century. the gastronomic “treasury”). and a place where riches are kept. as well as the sense of history. The idea was to expose as many individuals as possible to the riches of French culture and to ensure the creation of artistic and intellectual works that would continue to enrich it.”8 During the next decade. the Malraux Law of 1962 was further designed to encourage cultural activity across the nation. a strong sense of appréciation or understanding combined with enjoyment. The state commissioned the publication of the Inventaire culinaire du patrimoine de la France (1992–1996). The charter for this undertaking noted the “incomparable” richness of France’s culinary cultures. One should. invests in the institutionalization of the culinary heritage and in the promotion of quality. In the 1950s. then. To avoid the usual Parisian bias. as in the Plat du terroir (Terroir Dishes) initiative begun in 1985. capital. printed roadmaps and posted signs on highways throughout the country indicate national Sites remarquables du goût (Taste Sites Worthy of Note) as attractions for travelers and tourists. These attitudes would soon be specifically extended to food culture. Since 1993. and the conviction that government intervention is necessary to foster and protect culture. the title is telling. a set of 22 volumes that take “culinary inventory” of the country by region. Charles de Gaulle appointed the novelist and diplomat André Malraux to head a new Ministère des affaires culturelles (Ministry of Cultural Affairs). Curnonsky published another work on the same topic entitled the Trésor gastronomique de la France (1933). an undiscovered or unexpected windfall (as in hidden treasure). whether French or foreign nationals.

identifiable. a site of culture if not historical preservation. These practices are also carefully cultivated. . with other nations in the European Union and beyond. of terroir. the effort to identify foodstuffs and thus to render transparent the links in the food chain responds to the general sense that it is better to know exactly what one is eating. traditional. a feeling of alienation results. that passes for food. and AOC products can take extreme forms. Inevitably. a group of prominent chefs published a manifesto protesting “alien” and “exotic” combinations of flavors and foods. or the sense of being compelled to live in a museum. These chefs called for a return to terroir and presumably to some sort of ideal state of absolute Frenchness. Chefs in elite restaurants (restaurants gastronomiques) may make special efforts to incorporate local and AOC items into their menus. to serve commercial and political interests. highly processed “product” with no visible history or origin. It does so through specific legislation that complements regulation against fraud. a sense of belonging and participation. notoriously. During the 1990s. With trenchant wit and insight. by association. and innovation. The appreciation for local. Specialty producers such as fine wine makers have long appreciated and often instigated the demand for distinguishing marks of authenticity. The restaurant is. There is great sympathy for this gesture. can be felt to inhibit freedom. creativity. Eating dinner in a typical. For many people. and in a few cases invented. the sociologist Claude Fischler has named the alternative the OCNI: objet comestible non identifié or Unidentified Comestible Object. The position is exaggerated. the tourist and export trades are notable beneficiaries. laws to protect health and safety. the prevailing response is pride in the culture. The notions of regional cuisine and local specialty. useful for business.126 Food Culture in France gastronomic and culinary policy. in the push and pull of daily life. authenticity in the culinary domain has become a more than usually vexed question. For others. heavily commercialized. or regional restaurant reifies and affirms one’s very Frenchness. Thanks to careful packaging and marketing.9 By this is meant the generic. and of the patrimoine culinaire derive from real social practices and attitudes whose cultivation and preservation enrich the texture of daily life. The process of patrimonialisation. and policies of agricultural protectionism. Beyond the appreciation for what is fresh. or identifying elements of culture as part of the heritage and then fulfilling the corresponding obligations to preserve them. the habitual practices and the self-consciously elaborated ones overlap and become closely intertwined. yet has a clear resonance. today the source of ongoing tension within the country and. As a result.

Eating Out 127 RESTAURANT RHYMES AND REASONS Few people today go out to eat because they lack facilities to cook at home. . Eating out with a new acquaintance or a friend allows social bonds to deepen in a neutral yet comfortable and inviting setting. Busy work schedules make the option of being served dinner at the end of the day attractive. Restaurants and cafés are moreover much appreciated as settings for social interaction. one may return repeatedly to a restaurant to enjoy a favorite création de la maison (house specialty) or to test the latest invention of a particular chef. Yet close friendships require time to develop. private space. Those traveling for business or having a long daily commute cannot eat at home. Because of the longstanding customs of eating out and the pervasive culture of socializing outside the home. Sampling a cuisine from another nation allows one to traverse continents simply by walking down the street. Courtesy of Arnold Matthews. The motivations lie elsewhere. Eating dinner weekly at a neighborhood bistro provides a sense of continuity and social connectedness. In a country where eating well is a passion shared by so many. Gregariousness and conviviality are characteristic social traits. it is easy to find relatively inexpensive A typical Parisian brasserie with café-style tables for sitting outside. and the home is viewed as an intimate.

Similarly. A café-restaurant stays open all day and perhaps into the late evening. the various establishments may serve both food and alcoholic beverages. This is partially a matter of practicality.e. only a beverage) and do so between meals. many also serve beer and a selection of alcohols. this is also possible in some bistros and brasseries. it is common to order what is referred to as a menu or formule.128 Food Culture in France places where one can eat a good meal in pleasant surroundings. When one is ready to leave the restaurant. l’addition (the check) is not brought to the table right away. and continue talking after the meal. eating out has rituals all its own. It is considered sociable to all drink the same thing and egotistical not to follow the general wishes of the group. A selection of dishes is offered for each of two or three courses at a fixed price for the full meal. Currently the most common terms for eating and drinking establishments are restaurant. With the appropriate licenses. one goes to a “restaurant” to eat a full meal at noon or in the evening. bistro. This would be viewed as quite rude. To serve food. It is assumed that people will take their time to eat. bars are not particularly central to social . As a result.. Legally. serving coffee and drinks between and after meals. people discuss what they are thinking of ordering and from which menu they will choose. the degree of involvement of personnel in food preparation and service. and most bistros and brasseries serve full meals. However. After the meal. diamond-shaped label reading tabac that is stuck on the window) is licensed to serve as a tobacconist and sells cigarettes. when one goes out. On the other hand. one requests the check from the waiter. Especially in smaller restaurants. so that the meal progresses according to a similar rhythm for everybody at the table. In practice. some cafés serve food. Of course. it is only in a café that one may order as little as a coffee (i. restaurants must register the types of items to be served. brasserie. items from within the three-course menu choices).e. Within families or groups of friends. although the beverage will more likely be a glass of wine or a beer. It is considered courteous to order a similar sequence as one’s dinner companions (i. BARS AND WINE BARS Restaurants and most cafés serve wine.. and so on. and café. Whether in a fancy restaurant or in a local café or bistro. enjoy the pauses between courses. there is discussion as to the choice of wine. the sum is usually less than an à la carte total. These are often used interchangeably. the sale of beverages is regulated by licenses that specify a maximum allowed alcohol content per beverage. A café-tabac marked with the carrotte (a red.

TEA SHOPS Salons de thé (tea rooms) are few in number but enjoy a faithful clientele. for the austere ritual elegance of Japanese customs of taking tea. and for the British tradition of high tea. and alcohols during the evening hours. when alcohol was temporarily deregulated. more women than men drink tea. Much like the specialized brasseries that serve many varieties of beer. choosing from a list of different kinds of leaves. Madeleines • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder • pinch salt . bars that are so called (un bar) serving only wine. beer. beer. some plain black teas may be flavored from the addition of bergamot oil or extract of violet or rose. a slice of tart. which may be served in small portions in the style of Spanish tapas or Turkish mezes. as are madeleines. and drinks can be found in discos or nightclubs. Macaroons are well liked. the wine bar offers a broad selection of bottles and is designed for sampling good wines. a new type of bar à vin or wine bar is in vogue. the author Marcel Proust was overwhelmed with strong memories of his childhood and proceeded to write the lengthy semiautobiographical novel À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Time Past. tea is drunk by a few anglophiles. in large hotels. and the ambience is fairly sophisticated. Among tea drinkers there is much admiration for the variety of Asian and Indian teas. the tea cakes having a scallop shape and that launched thousands of words. Bars enjoyed a surge in popularity at the end of the nineteenth century. Today. and by the health-conscious or those seeking to avoid the larger amounts of caffeine in coffee. Most tea shops have the distinctively French touch of the exquisite. the word bar owes its derivation to the French term (une barre de comptoir) for the foot-rest close to the floor near a counter where one stands to take a drink or to eat. A selection of tisanes or herbal infusions is usually available as well.Eating Out 129 life for most people. and sometimes in large restaurants. With the recent fashion for drinking high-quality wines. by the highly educated. The focus here is on tasting wine. Some cafés that remain open late at night function then as bars de nuit and tend to serve almost exclusively wine. Dipping one in a fragrant glass of lime (linden) tea. Food. but they declined as an institution during the Vichy period. Today. 1913–1927). Nonetheless. or one of the more refined forms of cookie. One orders a small pot of tea. The complement for tea is a pastry. takes a secondary role as an accompaniment to the wine.

then stir in the melted butter. familiar since the mid-twentieth century through the presence of immigrants from former colonies. assimilation has also worked in the other direction or not at all. “EXOTIC” RESTAURANTS AND GLOBAL CUISINES The terms exotique (exotic) and sometimes éthnique (ethnic) are used for any kind of food. melted and allowed to cool Note: Madeleines are baked in special forms that give them their distinctive shape. the large population of citizens and residents whose national or ethnic origins are not French makes the use of a term such as exotique unclear. couscous is perceived as an everyday food. With additional melted butter. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the fat part of the little cakes comes clean. and they are often applied to foreign cuisines associated with immigrants. Add the vanilla. and set aside. Indeed. Gradually fold in the flour mixture. Makes about 3 dozen. traditional regional . Changes in eating habits as a result of dietary concerns and issues of convenience. Clearly. gradually add the granulated sugar. and salt. lemony yellow. whether of French or other national origin. It ranks just behind steak-frites (steak and French fried potatoes) and gigot d’agneau (roast leg of lamb) as a familiar. reliable favorite. or restaurant cuisine that is not traditionally French. however. cooking. A specialist in the sociology and anthropology of consumption points out that for some. is not typically referred to as exotique. While continuing to beat the eggs.130 • • • • Food Culture in France 3 large eggs 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter. Remove the cookies from the pans. Sift together the flour. North African couscous. The use of these terms reflects the longstanding expectation that integration into French society is effected through assimilation into the culture. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Add the lemon zest. the sense of the exotic varies according to perspective. At present. baking powder. lightly brush the madeleine pans. filling each shell to two-thirds full. make the term even more confusing. and familiarity with a variety of foods as a result of travel and the global market. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are fluffy and turn a pale. and let them cool on a wire rack. Continue beating until the mixture doubles in volume. Spoon in the batter.

this is not apparent in the restaurants. if practically unknown beyond the reaches of the urban working-class neighborhoods where they are found. Italian restaurants in France tend to specialize in pasta dishes and to serve individual. plat. Thai restaurants are a relatively new addition and usually have carefully annotated menus to warn against spicy dishes. in particular Columbia and Brazil. Typical. and Vietnamese restaurants date to the independence of the respective colonies and protectorates. and also by populations from Congo.11 FAST-FOOD AND RESTAURANT CHAINS The rapid expansion of fast-food and chain restaurants began in the 1960s.10 It is useful to remember that foods such as tomatoes and potatoes that are now typical and essential in the regional cuisines are not native to French territory or even to Europe. having open counters that double as kebab and sandwich stands. in the Turkish restaurants. variety. British or Irish pubs and Tex-Mex restaurants can be found in the large cities and in some university towns. Varieties of North African restaurants and tea houses are relatively common and sometimes quite refined. The establishment of Algerian. the use of industrially prepared ingredients. Chinese restaurants are quite familiar in suburban areas and small towns. Indian restaurants and Japanese restaurants that mainly serve sushi rather than cooked dishes are found in the large cities. new imports have further expanded the choices especially in the larger cities. by and large undistinguished. Although the complexity. and Burkina. These are working-class cafés operated and frequented by immigrants from Senegal. Recently. and the practice . sophistication. They usually serve Cantonese and Hong Kong–style foods and organize menus according to the French sequence of entrée. the nuances of Ottoman cuisine are hardly in evidence. Moroccan. and Mauritania who came to France starting in the 1960s and 1970s. These establishments are distinguished by a formulaic list of choices. Greek and Turkish restaurants are often informal.Eating Out 131 dishes such as cassoulet or cuisses de grenouilles (frogs’ legs) are quite exotic. Lebanese. Cameroon. to include Tibetan food and the cuisines of South American nations. because they are not an accustomed part of the daily diet. Restaurants serving cuisines from outside the French territory are reasonably popular. and dessert. to which most French eaters are not accustomed. and rich history of the Chinese regional and provincial cuisines are comparable to those of France. Mali. thin-crusted pizzas taken as a main course dish. Tunisian. as well as cities. are cafés sahéliens.

The goal is to create products of consistent quality and that vary as little as possible from one outlet or franchise to the next. three-course meals with traditional menus. with just under one for every eight traditional cafés or restaurants. cooking (or heating). Restaurants dating to the 1960s such as the Courtepaille chain found in roadside service areas on the national highways serve full. fast food restaurants are ubiquitous. chains represented 2. but accounted for 20 percent of sales. these eating establishments flourish. from raw ingredients). Following the principles borrowed from the United States of Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford. The largest share of the market is divided between two American concerns. There are numerous French chains and fast food restaurants.14 but one that has French imitators such as Speed Rabbit Pizza. In the restaurant. Livraison à domicile (delivery) for pizza. is a late-blooming phenomenon. founder of the hospitality firm now called Accor.12 One researcher points out that this may be in part precisely because the fast-food chain restaurants allow one to flaunt conventions of good taste and eating well. The impact and initial strangeness of the phenomenon to French eaters can be measured in Claude Zidi’s film L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976). and assembly. American chains including McDonald’s began opening stores in France in the early 1970s. and there were no real cooks.5 percent of commercial restaurants. the cooking processes are broken down into simple procedures that are standardized and designed for maximum efficiency.132 Food Culture in France of a highly rationalized cuisine d’assemblage (“assembly cooking” rather than preparing food from scratch. As of 1998. as the service was brusque and impersonal or else one had to serve oneself at a counter. they undergo final stages of preparation. Today. . and vacuum packed. Fast-food pizza. freeze-dried. enjoy mixed success. a parody of the industrialist Jacques Borel. such as Quick and Flunch. the success of individual franchises varies by region and adaptation to the local population. Pizza Hut and Dominos. or pizzeria chains. introduced by the American chains. the restaurants were not popular. The dishes are based on preassembled ingredients. Initially. with some adjustments to the menu including the availability of wine and beer. and the service is efficient. on the principle that one will want to eat a decent meal as a break from a long trip. Despite the culture of gastronomy and despite widely publicized and occasionally violent protests against the fast food restaurants. Ingredients have been industrially processed and prepared.13 The use of industrially prepared foods in cuisine d’assemblage has penetrated to many traditional commercial restaurants and has led to hybrids.

a fine dining establishment. and norms. Nova magazine has been publishing a guide to fooding. Courtesy of Philippe Bornier.” The awkwardness of the word well conveys the extremely unusual nature of these restaurants.Eating Out 133 Readying cooked carrots and peas for service. quality. For the last few years. Notable is the effort to translate the primary appeal of the new establishments to one’s individual sensations. in an eating culture that has long privileged tradition. A degree of standardization is essential in nearly any professional kitchen. LE FOODING AND NOVELTY RESTAURANTS The semiologist and astute interpreter of culture Roland Barthes observed that food can be a situation or an event. a term coined by two journalists in 1999. a small but growing number of restaurants have turned to creating establishments whose primary attraction is a nontraditional ambience of one sort or another. to one’s emotional . whether in a cafeteria. As if taking Barthes’s observation for advice. or a fast food restaurant. to one’s personal experience and reactions. The noun is manufactured from the English words “food” and “feeling.

15 Now. The guide to fooding does not rate for price and quality according to the recognized grids of classical cuisine and mid–twentieth century nouvelle cuisine. In the seventeenth century. a shady glade. An unobstructed view of the sky and a fresh breeze on the face are thought to enhance the meal. as much as eating the food. the association with an outdoor meal stabilized only in the mid-twentieth century. The aristocratic classes. Extensive coordination and planning are required to unite large numbers of family members and friends in natural locations considered to be beautiful and offering good air to breathe and an attractive view to admire. . Favorites include roasted or rotisserie chickens. for the pleasure of being able to manger au dehors (eat outside). Rather. picnics may be quite elaborate affairs. or on the ocean. or that serve a “world food” cuisine. Today. adding an extra dimension of enjoyment. workers such as agricultural laborers often had to eat outdoors. manger en pique-nique (to eat picnic style) meant pooling money to share the expense of an improvised meal. on the other hand. People who have gardens or terraces set up tables even in tiny spaces. Its categories include restaus that are gay. A picnic may be an impromptu lunch consisting of no more than a jambon-beurre (slice of ham in buttered baguette) eaten outdoors. EATING OUTSIDE The French love to eat outdoors. during the summer. everyday meal a festive feeling. The interest here is ambience and novelty. or perhaps some variety of fusion food. Alternatively. could make a party by having tables set up in a meadow. Le fooding appeals in particular to younger people open to seeking a social experience or the experience of a place for its own sake. as is camping. or a landscaped garden. In the preindustrial era. Other portable picnic foods are made in advance or bought already prepared. picnics in parks are popular. it lists nontraditional restaurants in categories that have more to do with personal identity or lifestyle. such as in the mountains. Eating outside is felt to offer a break from the routine and doing so gives even a simple. Outdoor meals have a special appeal given that the contemporary lifestyle is primarily urban and that jobs keep people indoors and relatively sedentary. Cooking outside usually involves grilling or barbecuing fresh sausages and merguez. especially in the middle and upper classes.134 Food Culture in France state. bio-végét (biologique-végétarien or organic and vegetarian). eating outside or in an attractive natural setting is a matter of choice. near a river. as an inexpensive mode of taking a vacation. Terrace or courtyard tables are selling points for restaurants and cafés during mild weather.

115–16. baskets. Claude Fischler.” Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (January-March 1997): 40–67. Elise Palomares. vendors stroll up and down musically chanting the wares they carry on flat trays: boissons fraîches (cool drinks. Grange and Dominique Poulot. 1997). “L’exotique est-il quotidien? Dynamiques de l’exotique et générations.” Revue historique 596 (October-December 1995): 260–83 and “Du temps annuel au temps quotidien: la conserve appertisée à la conquête du marché. “The Ash May Finally Be Falling from the Gauloise. Les Ouvriers de Paris au XIXe siècle (Paris: Christian. “‘Un sacrifice de plus à demander au soldat:’ L’armée et l’introduction de la boîte de conserve dans l’alimentation française.” pp. 2. Julia Csergo. . Gestes des moines. Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. 7. During the summer on the hot. 10. 5. flats of summer fruits in season such as peaches. 6. 2002). apricots. Aude de Saint-Loup. Yves Delaporte. 1810–1920. Martin Breugel. eds. glaces (ice cream). 36. and soda).Eating Out 135 hard sausages to be sliced and eaten with chunks of bread. Sandrine Blanchard. 2006) and John Tagliabue. L’Esprit des lieux (Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble. 2002). “La constitution de la spécialité gastronomique comme objet patrimonial en France. 281–306 in Isabelle Garabuau-Moussaoui. Sylvie-Anne Mériot. 183–93 in Daniel J.” pp. café chaud (hot coffee). eds. NOTES 1. Fabrice Laroulandière. There are also vendors for choux-choux or peanuts made crunchy with a praline coating.” The New York Times (September 8.. fin XVIIIe-XXe siècle. Manger au Moyen Âge (Paris: Hachette.” Le Monde (March 9. usually bottles of mineral water. 209. 9. L’Homnivore (Paris: Odile Jacob. From stands set up at the edge of the beach. 1997). 3. Mériot. and bottles of wine and mineral water. 47. 2005). 158. Alimentations contemporaines (Paris: L’Harmattan. thé à la menthe (mint tea). These items will be carefully packed and carried to the ideal spot in backpacks. and coolers. 8. and Marc Renard. and Dominique Desjeux. Nostalgic Cooks: Another French Paradox. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac.. with the popular option of getting the fries right in the sandwich. or cherries. heavily frequented Mediterranean beaches. trans. Bruno Laurioux. 4. regard des sourds (Nantes: Siloë. 2006). one can usually buy frites and meat kebabs served in a piece of baguette as a sandwich. 1990). and beignets or round jam-filled doughnuts covered with glinting granulated sugar. bags. 1997). Trevor Cox and Chanelle Paul (Leiden and Boston: Brill. juice.

eds. Eating Out in Europe (Oxford: Berg. and Desjeux. 2003). “The Picnic in Nineteenth-Century France. Julia Csergo.136 Food Culture in France 11. 123–41 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. Boutboul and A. Palomares. Palomares. 14. Pascal Hug.’ ” pp. 15. “Esquisse de la fonction sociale de McDonald’s à partir d’une étude éthnographique. 139–59 in Marc Jacobs and Peter Scholliers. “ ‘La pizza dans le pays des autres..” pp.” pp. 12. Olivier Badot. Palomares. April 1999). “Cafés sahéliens de Paris: Stratégies de ‘gestions du ventre’ dans un espace de manducation. 83–121 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. 145–71 in Garabuau-Moussaoui. . 13. and Desjeux. Lacourtiade. “Étude chaînes 1998” (Paris: GIRA-SIC Conseil. Sylvia Sanchez. and Desjeux. B. 2.” pp.

Since the 1990s a trend to revive traditional agricultural and regional celebrations has served to affirm local identity and preserve the sense of history. such as Christmas (December 24–25). These holidays are now feasts. RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS The holidays having a religious origin and that are observed by the greatest number of people in France derive from the Catholic liturgical calendar. but it is also recognized that participation in shared festivities socializes children. there is a strong emphasis on celebrating personal days such as birthdays. and most people celebrate them in a secular fashion. and ensures the integration of individuals into communities. most people today celebrate holidays such as Noël (Christmas). observed on December 24 with the next day a holiday . interest. This is typical savoir-vivre (knowing how to live well) applied at the table. derive from Catholic religious observances historically connected with fasting. The rest. Within families and circles of friends. a few are secular commemorations such as Bastille Day (July 14).6 Special Occasions The care. A holiday atmosphere certainly prevails for the Sunday lunch with family and at the dinner party given on a Friday or Saturday evening for a few close friends. Parties. sustains family relationships. are simply fun. of course. and enjoyment that so many people bring every day to cooking and eating bring a bit of holiday reverence and revelry to nearly any meal. Of the 11 days mandated as federal holidays. That said. on a daily basis.

The family celebration is a treat much anticipated by children. as well as the festive foods and gifts. Courtesy of Hervé Depoil. Good wines are saved for the occasion. from réveiller. and shrimp set out for the first course of the Christmas meal. Roasted turkey stuffed with chestnuts is a standard main course. and because of seasonal availability. From the ecclesiastical requirement for a lean meal. Almost nothing is more typical than drinking sparkling wine for festive occasions. clams. One broke the fast at the réveillon (late meal after mass. who like the sapin or tree decorated with lights that is mounted in the living room. baked or roasted salmon. Fish. and grains. People refer to the Christmas Eve meal as le gros souper (the big dinner). Through the Platters of raw oysters and steamed mussels. although the tradition is of recent vintage. December 24 was a fasting day in the Catholic calendar. to wake up) with fish. in a secular fashion. Abstinence from all food was in principle required until after the midnight mass. or turbot for the wealthy were typical. especially salmon. The old lean dishes are thus replaced on the holiday table by festive foods that suggest prosperity but are now within reach of many wallets. stockfisch (dried cod) for modest tables.138 Food Culture in France from work. vegetables. but no meat. is now eaten throughout the year. . and Champagne accompanies dessert. Oysters and foie gras are favorite appetizers. and the former fasts have become secular feasts.

For this reason the old tradition of giving gifts to children for la Saint-Nicolas (the feast of St. then frosted with chocolate butter-cream. In the spring. sparkling wine was rare and drunk by the very wealthy. In Provence. Nicholas’s Day the traditional gifts were pains d’épices or spice bread flavored with honey. chemical changes resumed with warm weather. electronic games. on December 6) has been somewhat eclipsed. the Christmas meal finishes with a bûche de Noël or cake in the shape of the fruit-wood Yule log that was placed on the fire as a symbol of plenty. buttery yeasted cake studded with candied fruits and decorated with powdered sugar eaten in Alsace—and Spéculoos (spice cookies of Flemish origin) common in Picardie and Pas-de-Calais. producing carbon dioxide. bicycles.Special Occasions 139 end of the eighteenth century. Christmas is heavily commercialized. and cinnamon. but the greatest prestige attaches to the finest bottles from the Champagne region. As in the United States. Snails. Sparkling wines can be made wherever wine grapes are grown. The cake for the bûche starts as a flat rectangle made from a light batter containing eggs but little or no butter. During the nineteenth century. baked meringue toadstools. cloves. and a few holly leaves imaginatively transform the cake into a log plucked from the woods. and lemon juice) with artichoke hearts. patron saint of children. a sprinkling of powdered sugar to suggest snow. Nicholas. Those who do attend the midnight service on Christmas Eve often divide up the meal. Chocolate shavings resembling tree bark. as well as alcohol. but it is common to order one from a pâtissier. salt cod. Clever marketing transformed Champagne into an essential feature of important celebrations. olive oil. as presents. Other winter desserts that appear around Christmas and New Year’s are chocolate truffles. and regional specialties such as the Germanic Christollen (Stollen)—a dry. For St. The adventurous make their own bûches. and oranges and nuts. saving only cake and wine for the réveillon after mass. and children now expect toys.1 Cold weather halted fermentation of the sugars before it was complete. fruit pastes. The baked sponge is spread with a jam glaze. Children put out their shoes near a fireplace or a crèche (nativity scene) in the hopes that they will be filled with gifts. whose aptitude as a vintner is mythical) but was rather the result of a happy accident in wine-making. and so on. and . The carbonation was not sought (nor added by the monk Dom Perignon. aïoli (garlicky mayonnaise) or anchoïade (anchovies pounded with bread crumbs. Since the late nineteenth century. foods for Christmas Eve dinner may still reflect the regional staples and the custom of eating a repas maigre or meatless lean meal. careful cultivation and scientific modes of production made sparkling wines more plentiful. marzipan confections. rolled.

Garlic Soup (Aïgo-boulido) • 8 cloves garlic • 5 cups water • 1 sprig fresh sage • 1 bay leaf • 4 tablespoons olive oil • salt • 3 very fresh egg yolks • pepper • 4 slices of bread. Grind fresh black pepper to taste onto the soup. aged Cantal. The soup is also recommended as a cure-all for colds and aches and as a soothing restorative in case of gastronomic excess or hangover at any time of year. sage. and water in a pot. lightly grilled or toasted • 3/4 cup of grated hard cheese such as Gruyère. To serve. just to mix. .140 Food Culture in France winter vegetables including chard and cardoons figure on the Christmas table. Pour a ladleful of the boiled broth and garlic mixture onto the eggs and whisk together. Put the garlic. Pour in the olive oil. using the tip of a knife. or apples. Another explanation matches a dessert each to Christ and the 12 apostles. In the bottom of a soup tureen or large serving bowl. Turn off the heat. Divide the cheese among the four bowls. and cook for 10 minutes. The Provençal Christmas meal concludes with 13 desserts.” actually a far more tasty garlic soup). bay leaf. The meal often begins with a simple. salt to taste. place a slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each soup bowl. water. flavorful aïgo-boulido (Occitan for “boiled water. slice it in half lengthwise and remove the green germ. thought to symbolize the 12 months of the year plus the petit mois (little month) composed of the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany. sprinkling it on top of the bread. Bring the mixture to the boil. If the garlic is at all dry. then pour on the rest of the broth. Either vin cuit (wine with macerated fruit such as oranges) or chilled sweet wine accompanies the selection of desserts: fresh fruits such as oranges. Ladle on the soup and serve piping hot. tangerines. gently beat the egg yolks with a wooden spoon. or Parmesan Crush the garlic with your hand or with the side of a knife and peel it.

stir the flour into the liquids. gibassier. if the dough is sticky. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. confections such as candied chestnuts. As you knead. A whole melon carefully candied in syrup over two weeks at the end of summer may appear as the crown jewel of the holiday sweet spread. Using a spatula or wooden spoon. olive oil. candied almonds. or fougasse. Place the bowl in a warm spot in your kitchen. or a lightly sweetened chard tart. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel. stir together the yeast and warm water. Using a wire whisk. as necessary. The next day.Special Occasions 141 dried fruits and nuts such as raisins. and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smoothly elastic and no longer sticky.” a description that is not inaccurate. salt. hazelnuts. until the mixture is fairly uniform. up to 24 hours. almonds. incorporating it gradually first from the center and then from the edge of the bowl. Form the kneaded dough into a ball. The name pompe à l’huile for the festive bread evokes the pomp and circumstance of the holiday celebration. and orange zest together in a large bowl. a lightly sweetened bread enriched with olive oil and flavored with orange flower water or anise. until doubled in volume. and light and dark nougats with nuts. sugar. sugar and lemon peel. then pour in the orange flower water. mix 3 cups flour. Lightly flour a work surface. Christmas Bread (Pompe à l’huile. With a pun it also literally means “oil pump. An indispensable element is the plain pompe à l’huile. Make a well in the center. sprinkle on a bit of additional flour. dates. and walnuts. mix in 1 cup of the flour to make a smooth batter. Place it back in the mixing bowl. and the sponge from the previous day. figs. Pompe de Noël) • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast • 1 cup lukewarm water • 5 cups bread flour • 1 teaspoon salt • 1/2 cup sugar • grated zest of 1 orange • 3 tablespoons orange flower water • 6 tablespoons olive oil In a medium-size mixing bowl. and pastries such as spinach tart made with olive oil or butter. . turn the dough out from the bowl. and allow to rise for about 2 hours. Let the sponge batter sit overnight.

or porcelain trinket is tucked into the paste or dough before it is baked. sharp. In the South. If necessary. pointed knife to score the surface of the breads in a checkerboard pattern. then place the disks two by two on the sheets. Epiphany occasioned festival debauchery. Today. the youngest child in the room gets to hide under the table and to ask the question: Who will be the king? The evening requires having a gilt cardboard couronne (crown) in reserve. turn over. Lightly grease two baking sheets. As with most holidays. which is in the shape of a crown. then turn it out of the bowl onto the work surface. and leave for the final rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. whole almond. People eat several galettes through the course of the month with family groups and with friends. To mark the day people eat the galette des Rois or gâteau des Rois (“kings’ cake” or Twelfth Night pastry).142 Food Culture in France Punch the dough down. and divide it into four. round disk. Use a clean razor blade or very thin. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes. . When they are done. then make perpendicular cuts. While the cake is being served. thick almond custard is usually spread between two layers of puff paste. and noisy bibbers chose a king from among their own numbers. Épiphanie or la fête des Rois commemorates the manifestation (épiphanie) of the infant Jesus to the Magi. customs for Epiphany are now largely secular and family-oriented. To serve. until golden brown and crusty. This is baked into a round disk or a ring whose center is filled with cherries or prunes. bring the breads whole to the table and break off square chunks where they are scored. bakeries supply galette to the steady stream of buyers. shaping each piece into a flat. and pull the dough. use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. they will sound hollow if you tap the bottom with your fingers. Makes four loaves about 8 inches in diameter. so that the disks are about 1/2-inch thick. January 6 is given as a holiday. A fève (dried bean). Use your hands to flatten. Throughout January. Cut parallel lines into the dough about 1/4-inch deep and at intervals of 1 inch. The simplest version is plain flat puff pastry glazed with egg. It is a quiet family gathering or a good excuse to get together with friends for a more relaxed evening than the rigorous celebrations of the preceding couple of weeks. A lightly sweetened. Preheat the oven to 400° F. The person whose piece of pastry contains the fève—referred to as such even if the object is not a bean—is crowned king or queen. Cover the breads with towels. Cool completely on wire racks before eating. Near the winter solstice. the galette can be a yeastleavened pain brioché or dough enriched with eggs and also butter.

the candle was lighted at auspicious moments during the rest of year for good luck. The crêpes are eaten rolled up with a bit of sugar. Beignets (doughnuts).Special Occasions 143 Rich pancakes and pastries feature in the end-of-winter holidays that preceded the Lenten fast in the Catholic calendar. large prairie mushrooms. Crêpes are traditional for la Chandeleur (Candlemas or Candle Festival) observed on February 2. festival aristocracy that mocked the exclusions based on bloodlines long key to privilege in the everyday world. ending with mardi gras. and fowl against the fish and vegetables. enlever les viandes or to take away meats) lasted the weekend or entire week.e. Carnival included the ludic selection of a king and queen who presided over a Feast of Fools. spread with jam such as apricot or cherry. the last day before the start of Carême (Lent) on mercredi saint (Ash Wednesday).. Today. which was accompanied by showers of flower petals. i. meats. For mardi gras (Fat or Shrove Tuesday). 1225) has a mild version in a topsy-turvy carnival atmosphere. to see whether they showed any signs of emerging from hibernation.2 The wild. pancakes. people prepared floats and masks for the festive procession. little ceremony outside of regular family meal customs marks the day. The commoner king and queen were an invented. so the cookies puff out while baking. and the ritual battle between Carnaval and Carême—or standoff between the Fat and the Lean—was a big food fight pitting sausages. This was done by observing animals in their lairs. In recollection of the presentation of Christ in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. The celebration in Nice was especially famous. bugnes or oreillettes (knotted or twisted strips of dough that are fried). people eat golden-brown butter cookies called navettes (boats). shaped as their name suggests. Through the mid-twentieth century. February 2 was also the day for attempting to predict how long winter weather would continue. Historically. people went to church to have a candle blessed. and fresh cheeses. In the port city of Marseille. people eat rich desserts made with milk and eggs. sometimes violent play and the disguises for Carnival made free with the usual social order. not only rich foods but also an orgiastic period of revelry directly preceded Lent. The medieval fable Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. and crêpes are typical. almond shapes that are scored down the middle. The dough is patted into large. Social theorists and historians have observed that turning le monde à l’envers (the world upside-down) through festivals such as Carnival doubtless released tensions that might . Carnival parades and processions were often quite elaborate. Carnaval (from the Latin carnem levare. For months beforehand. or filled with a purée of fresh fruit. In rural areas. and plenty of butter or oil. fat. with the characters slinging rotten crab apples.

However.144 Food Culture in France otherwise manifest in a much more destructive fashion. with many of the festive foods typical for Christmas: oysters. blanquette d’agneau (white stew made with lamb). eggs are mixed up into omelets. Carnival has declined to the status of a minor tourist attraction. The period also resonates with the 40 days of the flood. and few people observe the old Lenten dietary restrictions. is as likely to be in people’s thoughts. and so on. Pâques (Easter). They also show just how big the blowout was. a ham. la fête de l’Armistice commemorating the armistice of 1918. marking the resurrection of Christ and symbolized by a spring lamb. and rabbits to suggest life and seasonal renewal. with a thanksgiving meal of roast goose and new wine. with its paid holidays and personal celebrations. the federal holiday on the same day. foie gras. democratic society. is celebrated with roast lamb. the 40 years of the reign of King David. The meal is as elegant as possible. and some eat fish on Ash Wednesday and on Lenten Fridays. on Corsica and in some southern cities. NEW YEAR’S If Christmas and the winter religious holidays are spent with family. Hard boiled eggs are put in salads and baked whole in dishes finished in the oven. traditionally closed the harvest season and marked the end of agricultural work for the year. and they enrich breads and cakes such as the rich pain de Pâques (Easter bread) from the Vendée called alise pacaude. la fête de Saint-Sylvestre or New Year’s Eve is usually spent with friends. and people set off noisy pétards (firecrackers) and light sparklers. chickens. eggs. or. The 40 lean days anticipating Easter recall Christ’s fast in the desert and struggle against diabolical temptation. people enjoy the rich desserts on Fat Tuesday. The extraordinary scenes of parades and costumes. a roast goose or turkey. a roast beef. roasted or stewed kid goat. in the Old Testament. November 11. la Saint-Martin. much less for the full 40 days. The réveillon (late meal) usually lasts at least until midnight. in the pictures of the Niç ois artist Gustav-Adolf Mossa suggest the months of careful preparation that went into Carnival. On the jour de l’An . Children receive chocolates and candies in the shape of fish. In today’s secular. eating and drinking. when corks pop and people drink a glass of Champagne to bring in the New Year. After Carnival one was probably only too glad to withdraw into the asceticism of the sainte quarantaine or Carême (from the Latin quadragesima or fortieth day). Municipal feux d’artifices (fireworks) are common. Today.

Choux fourrés. PERSONAL EVENTS Even among the large population of nonbelievers. a holiday from work. The pastry tower is drizzled with caramel that hardens to a shiny gleam and adds texture contrast. and close friends. the chef Marie-Antoine Carême. but imaginative pâtissiers also make puff pastry swans. understood as symbols of fecundity. They are fairly costly and almost always ordered from a baker. Today the pièce . Now a pièce montée made out of puff pastry is an integral element to middle class and upper middle class celebrations. which can then be filled with cream. profiteroles or round pastry puffs filled with vanilla custard. such as an elegantly realized shady grotto or neoclassical façade. cars. the godparents.Special Occasions 145 (New Year’s Day). and so on. sugar has been used to coat spices for comfits and nuts for dragées. but who are outside the close circles of family and friends. and other people whom one sees throughout the year. friends exchange étrennes or little gifts to inaugurate the coming year. Even for the most complex design. the parents offer a festive lunch or dinner to family members. The cone shape is always considered appropriate and attractive. The festive pastry set pieces. who first trained as a pâtissier and was fascinated by architecture. The showy desserts—tours de force that required a large kitchen staff and luxury ingredients including sugar—were status symbols that accrued prestige to the host. flowers. Since the Renaissance. found great play for his creativity in the pièce montée. merchants. In the early nineteenth century. The pièce montée or pastry “set piece” is a carefully constructed dessert designed to dazzle the eyes as well as the palate. Medieval apothecaries distributed honey-coated spices such as coriander and fennel as medicinal breath fresheners and aids to digestion. can be traced to the aristocratic tables of the medieval and renaissance eras. Essential for both occasions and also for weddings are a pièce montée and dragées. The Greeks and Romans ate honey-coated nuts. along with sugar sculptures. Distributing sachets of dragées (from the Greek tragêmata. The classic pastry set piece is the conical croquembouche (“crunches in the mouth”). sweetmeats) or sugar-coated almonds as favors to guests at weddings and baptisms is a custom with ancient roots. Carême insisted that all parts be edible. January 1 is also the day for tipping mail carriers. After the church ceremonies. are layered and stacked up (montés) into a tall pyramid. it is fairly common to observe the sacramental rituals of church christenings for babies and first communions for older children. treated in his illustrated books Le pâtissier royal parisien (1815) and Le pâtissier pittoresque (1815 and 1854).

usually white or silver for a wedding or baptism. also traditionally a religious sacrament. Although most couples live together before marrying and have fully functioning households. entrée. The couple chooses rings. people sign up for the listes de mariage (registry) to orchestrate the gifts that are given. Communions. salad. and cutlery along with additions for the kitchen. Baptisms. with fish and then meat). Inaugurations. boned and stuffed fowl such as Guinea hen or capon.” Courtesy of Janine Depoil. Buffets. lobster. Cocktails. Apéritifs. Menus often include foie gras. montée is often decorated with a few dragées. In either case. The wedding meal is designed according to the couples’ tastes. as in the United States. Banquets. but is on the scope of a banquet. Marriages. glasses. Weddings. plat (or sometimes two. A site for the party must be found and rented. There are meetings with florists and caterers to plan the decorations and meals. A series of four or five or six courses includes potage. with the most common requests being new sets of plates. are today usually secular family occasions. middle class and upper middle class wedding parties are carefully choreographed affairs that may involve a weekend-long party and great expense. Dessert is . and cheese. The bride selects a gown. roasted monkfish. Wedding foods tend to be high-status items that are presented as elegantly as possible. Anniversaries. Business Meals.146 Food Culture in France Caterer Farnier’s shop window in Blanzy advertises cooking for “All Receptions: Family Meals. even for a so-called menu champêtre (rustic or country menu). Formal invitations must be printed and sent.

It is quite common for couples to live together without marrying and to start families. the regular afternoon snack. to an evening party given at the home that already has been established. but give large parties for important milestones such as the 25th and 50th anniversaries. About 30 percent of children are born outside of wedlock. Adults give their own birthday parties. the favorite foods of the birthday person often figure on the menu. For the family meal. soft drinks are considered a great treat by children. The cake is brought to the table studded with lit candles that the birthday person tries to blow out in one great breath. perhaps with a romantic dinner out. and all bring a gift. along with other children. from a gathering of friends and family at a favorite restaurant. Avoided by many parents because of the sugar content. a civil alliance available both to heterosexual and to homosexual couples. although some couples choose a gâteau à étages or layer cake. After a funeral. afternoon parties announced with written invitations enlarge on the four o’clock goûter. For children. others marry through the PACS or pacte civil de solidarité. the bereaved family traditionally offers a collation or luncheon to their guests. Couples celebrate anniversaries with each other. and they are served for the exceptional occasion of the birthday. Since 1999. such as a white or chocolate cake with chocolate icing. The birthday cake is usually a plain cake that will appeal to children. Sparkling apple juice called champomi (from Champagne and pomme for “apple champagne”) is also popular. who reciprocate by giving gifts. or croque-monsieur (hot ham sandwiches pressed flat in an iron) may be offered first. Family members and the child’s godparents attend. and there is strong social pressure to stage parties for friends and family.Special Occasions 147 the obligatory coupe de Champagne and spectacular pièce montée. Some marry at the local town hall but forego the religious celebration and traditional wedding. stuffed tomatoes. the eighteenth . Entertaining savories such as oeufs durs farcis (stuffed hard-cooked eggs). sometimes the parents decide to marry later on. Now the Anglo-Saxon custom of celebrating one’s own anniversaire or jour annniversaire (birthday) prevails. crêpes garnished with an egg or piece of ham. BIRTHDAYS Before the 1950s. individuals quietly observed their name days according to the Catholic calendar with its commemorations of the deaths and ascensions of the various saints. In addition to full-on weddings. Since 1974. when the majorité was lowered from 21. parties to celebrate personal relationships assume many forms.

birthday marks the passage into adulthood. Since the 1970s. A vernissage or gallery opening. an occasion to celebrate an entire career. family and friends. ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS To mark achievements at school and work. and then the decade markers. with speeches and toasts to accompany the lifting of glasses. a vin d’honneur . takes place at weddings before the dinner. Older teenagers are usually quite accustomed to drinking small amounts of wine as a part of the family meal and alcohols in the form of an apéritif. may be the occasion for a cocktail. The right to purchase alcohol at age 18 is essentially a formality. or a gathering of business partners and colleagues. and drink alcoholic beverages legally.148 Food Culture in France Carrying the birthday cake from kitchen into dining room. rather than a rite of passage. Courtesy of Nadine Leick. for the quarter-century. a vin d’honneur. The 60th birthday often coincides with a retirement party. whose name borrows from the American cocktail party. drive. At 18 one can vote. people invite colleagues and teachers. At business or academic conferences. Other important birthdays are the 25th. to a ceremonial apéritif or pot (drink).

Special Occasions


may be drunk in tribute to an important speaker or guest, with canapés (light appetizers) to accompany the glass of wine, Champagne, or kir, before dinner. The verb arroser means “to water” or “to sprinkle” and by metaphorical, argotic extension to celebrate with a drink. A person who has just passed an important examination, defended a doctoral thesis, or even bought a new car invites family and friends to an arrosage.

People who have just moved into a new house or apartment invite guests to pendre la crémaillère. The phrase recalls the ceremony of hanging a rack or trammel in the chimney to hold the stock-pot over the fire. This done, one could cook, making the house inhabitable. People usually give parties with a buffet for the pendaison de la crémaillère, both to inaugurate the new place, and to make family and friends feel welcome. Foods are selected according to personal taste and the ease with which they can be served and then eaten from small plates as people circulate around the party. Common buffet items include platters of artfully arranged crudités or charcuterie, bouchées de fromage or savory baked puffs filled with a bit of cheese, salads of greens or grated carrots, hachis parmentier or shepherd’s pie, slices of roast beef served at room temperature, a stew such as a southern daube or North African tagine, fruit salad, wedges of apple tart, and slices of quatre quarts (pound cake) or chocolate cake.

Le Quatorze juillet, or le jour de la Bastille (July 14), is the national holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris at the start of the Revolution of 1789. Only a handful of prisoners were found, but the riot symbolized release from the oppressive shackles of the ancien régime social and political orders. Bastille Day brings tremendous collective celebrations. Cities and towns organize fireworks, défilés (parades), and outdoor concerts and dancing. The immense Paris parade is always televised. Other spectacular events include the fireworks off the picturesque Pont d’Avignon, which dramatically breaks off halfway across the Rhône River. Families and community groups such as volunteer firemen, military veterans, and hunting clubs set up the outdoor barbecue for une grillade, a mixed grill that might include merguez, steaks, and lamb chops. For fun, people improvise foods with the bleu blanc rouge (blue, white, and red) of the flag: cocktails made with layers of strawberry syrup on the bottom, and then mixed vodka and anisette, and finally Curaç ao; scallops


Food Culture in France

garnished with reddish-orange salmon eggs to be served on a bright blue plate; and desserts of blueberries, fruits rouges (raspberries, strawberries, cherries), and cream or fromage blanc. Since the 1980s, events now staged annually such as Youth Day, Gay Pride (also called Euro-Pride or la Marche des fiertés), and the Techno Parade have the proportions and feelings of civic festivals, with parades, music, and plenty of eating, drinking, and revelry out of doors. As in many countries, sporting events such as soccer matches—a national passion— the Tour de France bicycle race, and marathons similarly offer something of the collective holiday experience.

In recent years a great effort has been made to continue or revive traditional regional and agricultural celebrations. Most villages and small towns have a fête votive, fête patronale, fête du pays, or kermesse celebrating the town’s patron saint. The festivals usually take place during the warm months, from May through October. They are fixed to a Sunday closest to the saint’s day, and last a weekend or three days. The festivals often were tied to a communal activity for farming, such as planting, harvesting, or threshing, and many have ancient pagan roots. Today, there is great appreciation for the fêtes votives and also fêtes folkloriques, as they are thought to preserve and teach about local customs including dress, regional styles of dancing, and gastronomic specialties. For a fête patronale or other local occasion, a special mass may be observed in the town church, and vendors set up outdoor markets and flea markets in the main street or square. Other festivals revived largely since the early 1990s are the May and December fêtes de la transhumance. It was customary to drive cows, sheep, and goats up to high ground for summer grazing. The descent back down to lower meadows and plains then followed the harvests. Today, trucks usually move the cattle, but the transhumance festivals are popular again especially in the late fall, when local cheeses made with the summer’s rich milk can be sold. The fêtes des vendanges or des moissons or d’abondance were feasts offered to harvesters to thank them for their work and celebrate the year’s bounty. New versions commemorate the old agricultural calendar and artisanal methods of work. The festivals are of great historical interest and are good for tourism. In recent years, they have also become vehicles for a certain revivalist, nationalist sentiment nostalgic for la vieille France; “old” here means Catholic France.

Special Occasions


Demonstrating the mechanics of a wine press, in Grimaud. Courtesy of Janine Depoil.

On a larger scale, city or regional fêtes are often associated with a special cultural practice, although some of these are of modern vintage. Highlights of the festivals vary according to region. In Nîmes there is bull-fighting, although the bull is never killed, as in Spain. The international film festival takes place each May at Cannes, the theater festival in July in Avignon, and operas are staged throughout the summer in the Roman theatre at Orange. Organized on the model of these cultural festivals, newer fêtes gourmandes organized to promote the patrimoine have flourished in recent years. Local restaurateurs, producers, and the municipal authorities collaborate to stage fairs that focus on local produce, from chestnuts to wine. Manifestations gastronomiques or gastronomic events take many forms, such as a tournée des restaurants where people make the rounds of participating restaurants to sample local dishes. Foires (fairs) have a carnival atmosphere like that of an amusement park. Foires or fêtes foraines formerly were associated with yearly outdoor markets (marchés forains) visited by itinerant merchants and traders. Today, the foires are heavily commercialized. Itinerant carnival workers set up lotteries, games, and rides. Vendors sell grilled merguez placed lengthwise in a piece of baguette, barbes à papa (“dad’s beard” i.e., spun sugar cotton


Food Culture in France

Alain Gontard’s restaurant in La Pacaudière announces an “open table” as part of the local gastronomic festival. The restaurant specializes in duck cookery including foie gras de canard. Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact.

candy), nougats, spice bread, waffles, guimauves (marshmallows), and the adored chichi, a long, flat beignet made of yeast dough flavored with orangeflower water and sprinkled with granulated sugar. The mercantile aspect of the old foires is recalled in today’s salons and expositions for producers of wine and brandies. These can be quite fancy affairs with a busy boutique atmosphere. Their attraction is increased by the fact that an invitation card is required for entry and tasting.

Since the 1990s, American customs associated with Halloween on October 31 have been heavily commercialized, and Halloween is now quite popular among children. Adults have had mixed reactions, finding the macabre emphasis on ghosts and skeletons unappealing, but children love wearing costumes and masks, carving citrouilles (pumpkins), and receiving sweets. Halloween celebrations have for the moment overshadowed la Toussaint (All Saints’ Day, November 1), a traditional religious holiday, today one of the federal holidays.

The other spouse and the children offer gifts and either do the cooking or treat everybody to an evening out. Jean Dufournet (Paris: Flammarion. NOTES 1. the last Sunday in May. 28–9. instituted in 1949 as the third Sunday in June. and the fête des Mères (Mother’s Day). 2. Guy. “Il avoient aportés/des fromage[s] fres assés/et puns de bos waumonés/et grans canpegneus canpés. 1984). 1225).Special Occasions 153 Also modeled after American counterparts are the fête des Pères (Father’s Day).” Aucassin et Nicolette (ca. ed. Kolleen M. These days are celebrated with a festive family meal. When Champagne Became French: Wine and the Making of a National Identity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. . canto 31. 2003).


and contemporary agricultural and manufacturing practices also create dietary dilemmas. AND PLEASURE The variety of foods that is now available to the broadest swathe of the population has not always been a feature of the diet. Animal protein was likely to be in the form of eggs. For some. but prices fluctuated and the best cuts were quite expensive. The structured family meal provides nutritional balance and conditions daily eating for most people. however.7 Diet and Health Abundance and variety have characterized the diet in France since the end of the Second World War. legumes. are on the rise. abundance. although meat consumption varied by region. such as obesity. and vegetables from the kitchen garden had been the building blocks of daily meals. In cities. As in other affluent nations. milk. Problems related to overconsumption. grignotage (snacking) replaces or augments the cycle of three daily meals. In rural areas. During the . the widely felt need for precautionary and protective measures shapes the response to matters of diet and health. MODERATION. bread. Across economic classes. BALANCE. At present. the modern lifestyle. the French associate taking the full three-course meal with a sense of well-being and with being in good health. while contributing to the quality of life that is so highly valued. or cheese. Genetically modified foods and agribusiness practices are perceived as threats to a healthy diet. meat consumption increased substantially during the nineteenth century.

and fresh and aged cheeses are very important. farmers adopted modern industrial techniques. dairy. The use of butter. are equally necessary . Affluence and modernization associated with the Trente glorieuses or Thirty Glorious Years of rebuilding after the war resulted in significant changes. The view that wine is healthful has not disappeared. Rationing at home allowed for only 1. pork. animal fats such as lard and goose fat. Despite this perception. Dairy products. and variety is precisely what characterizes the full meal with its complement of three or four different dishes. eating in the company of friends or family. farmers sent their best meat and dairy products off to the German Reich.200 calories per day by 1943. or fowl. eggs. which has been heavily marketed as a healthy way to “eat milk. the European Union began giving massive subventions to French grain. Yogurt. The American practices of counting calories and weighing portions would seem quite strange to most people. but consumption of wine has declined. and life expectancy dropped drastically during the Vichy years. and information about health benefits associated with unsaturated vegetable oils and the Mediterranean diet. under the PAC or Politique agricole commune (CAP or Common Agricultural Policy). inexpensive supply of beef. Using PAC funds. Wine was long viewed as a healthy. whether beef. hunger and diseases that result from dietary deficiencies had not been eradicated. Culinary quality and sensual appreciation of food are essential to the perception that one is eating well. strengthening beverage and in this sense was seen as quite distinct from distilled alcohols. Conviviality and social connection. and vegetable oils used to vary largely by region. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are eaten. including milk. As recently as the mid-twentieth century. dairy products. At present. however. a diet that is healthy). rates of alcoholism and diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver were high through the mid-twentieth century. In 1962. charcuterie. Nutrition is only part of the recipe. Overproduction and a reliable. but consumption has declined in favor of animal proteins and fresh produce. on the other. Bread retains a strong symbolic importance. The purpose of the assistance was to guarantee a stable food supply. and beef farmers. lamb. on the one hand.156 Food Culture in France Occupation of the 1940s. and grains made the earlier shortages and fluctuations a thing of the past. Eating a variety of fresh foods is more generally understood as key to une bonne nutrition or une alimentation saine (good nutrition. the broad preference for cooking with vegetable oils such as sunflower oil stems from their lower prices.1 The benefits of eating the full three-course family meal are thought of in a holistic fashion. Today the centerpiece of most middle class meals in France is meat. including raw salads and crudités.” is popular.

the baked meat and Enjoying a good meal and a glass of wine with friends contributes to quality of life and good health à la française. cannot be discounted. and plaisir (enjoyment) to name the salient features of eating well and harmonieuses (harmonious) to describe the ensemble of practices that go into eating well. such as cheeses and butter. Similarly. yet lower mortality rates from cardiovascular and coronary diseases. modération (moderation).Diet and Health 157 ingredients. the respite from the activities of the day imposed by the slow rhythm of the full meal. American and French researchers identified a phenomenon they named the French Paradox. and the British. The French. . Courtesy of Christian Verdet/regard public-unpact. it was observed. Relative to Americans. they had comparable or higher cholesterol levels. People use the terms équilibre (balance). northern Europeans. which received extensive coverage in the media. regularly drank wine and ate all sorts of foods rich in animal fats. The very lowest rates of coronary disease were measured in the southwestern Languedoc region. famous for foie gras and rib-sticking cassoulet. THE FRENCH PARADOX In the late 1980s and early 1990s. such as determining the relatively small portion sizes for individual components of a meal.2 Spending time at table and taking pleasure in eating are as important as what is eaten. The sense of pleasure and balance guide the practical aspects of cooking and serving daily meals.

grains. and legumes.4 Physical activities such as walking have a larger place in people’s daily routines. tend to prevent one from eating too much. socializing. Doctors discourage women from putting on too much extra weight during pregnancy. a doctor is called. The health insurance system guarantees women prenatal care. At the same time. BIRTH. few cut these items out of . cheese. then.. How was this contradiction to be explained? Various answers have been proposed to explain the so-called paradox. and enjoyment. portion sizes in restaurants. vegetables. strong envies (cravings). as this is seen as self-indulgent and quite unnecessary. as well. a hospital stay that lasts four to five days under normal circumstances at the time of the birth. The rituals of serving and sharing food and of politeness such as finishing up at about the same time as one’s table companions. lacking trace minerals) water as possible. AND BREASTFEEDING Women expecting babies are notorious for having sudden.3 Here. and wine. Midwives commonly deliver babies. and 10 weeks of paid maternity leave from their jobs. in addition to meats. but a régime équilibré (balanced diet) is the order of the day. yet they eat less. Mineral waters with a high magnesium content are useful against the common problem of constipation. People spend more time at table for meals. The French diet is varied. Beyond the constant admonition to drink as much plain “pure” (i. Making minor adjustments to the diet in response to the changing state of the body during pregnancy is recommended. It includes relatively high proportions of fruits. Compared with their American equivalents. Nearly universal access to high quality health care through the national sécurité sociale (social security) and emphasis on preventive care contribute to the health of the population. In case of any complication. stores. Other factors are important. Moderate consumption of wine or other alcohols can play a role in counteracting the effects of cholesterol.158 Food Culture in France bean stew that is generously enriched with goose or duck fat. however. but rather as an enhanced state of health and femininity. Mealtime is strongly associated with relaxation.e. Pregnancy is not seen as an infirmity. was a people eating a dangerously delicious diet. the longest in Europe. moderation in all things is recommended. (Lifespan for women is more than 83 years. for instance. PREGNANCY.) Each of these elements in the diet and lifestyle plays a role in maintaining health. homes. including a minimum of five required prenatal visits to the doctor. Most women reduce the amount of coffee and wine during pregnancy to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol. yet enjoying good health. and recipes are small.

boiling. veal) and poisson blanc or maigre or white fish that is low in fat (sole. if it continues to appeal. At about three to four months. and poaching. a greater variety of vegetable purées are proposed. there is recourse to the wide variety of formulas for infants in every stage of development. The exception is raw salads and raw vegetables that cannot be peeled. relying on the simplest cooking methods that avoid the use of fats.Diet and Health 159 their diet entirely. then cooked puréed vegetables. To continue to breast-feed an infant after three months may also be impractical if the mother must return to work after the 10-week paid maternity leave. then beef. hake). and doctors recommend that they stop at three months. such as flowers and bottles of Champagne. It is recognized that breastfeeding a newborn is highly beneficial to the child. such as clothing. and eventually . At three months. an occasion for celebration. as if to do so might hold back the infant in the earliest stages of development. It is widely felt that to extend breastfeeding any longer is unseemly. At about six months. As the baby begins to eat solid food. who take their meals a bit later. socialization. cod. the baby has received the essential nutrients and antibodies from the mother. continuing to sip a café au lait in the morning. In this case. There is also a good deal of generalized social pressure to stop at this point. At the same time. The birth of the child is. because in France they bring the risk of toxoplasmosis. people buy petits pots (jars of baby food) or make food at home. Family and friends visiting the new mother and child after they have left the maternité (maternity ward or room) bring gifts for the mother. in addition to useful items for the baby. in addition to breast milk or formula. Except in the case of a specific health problem or intolerance. Babies and very young children often eat separately from the parents. These are strictly déconseillés (recommended against). If the mother does not want to or cannot. BABIES AND CHILDREN Initiating children into the rites of the table is essential to their education. a more extreme approach is perceived as fanatical. yogurt and fromage blanc. there is little stigma attached to choosing against breastfeeding. available in the supermarchés. About half of women breast-feed their babies. The attitude toward feeding infants is practical. such as steaming. honey. then cereals such as semolina and rice. and health. and perhaps a small glass of wine with dinner. and tiny quantities of meat or fish: first viande blanche or white meats (chicken. naturally. babies are offered purées de fruits. it is thought that there is no use asking her to act à contrecoeur (against her wishes).


Food Culture in France

ham. At about nine months or so, children are offered bread, then eggs. At about one year, fattier fish such as sardines, tuna, and salmon may be incorporated into the diet, along with raw vegetable such as peeled grated carrots and cooked dried legumes such as lentils and haricots. By about a year to 15 months, when the baby can drink cow’s milk, it is thought that the child can eat a full variety of solid foods. The strong dietary prohibitions for babies are against added salt and sugar, foods that are too fatty or strong in flavor, and foods that present extra risks of bacteria or allergens: no pork, horsemeat, game, shellfish, fried foods, peanuts, or spices, and no sweets. To young children (ages three to six years) parents give simple foods seen as easy to digest and appealing to the still-developing palette. The classic child’s meal begins with a potage (soup) made of vegetables boiled in lightly salted water or plain broth, then passed through a moulinette (food mill) or puréed with the hand-held mixeur-plongeant. Potatoes, broccoli, turnips, leeks, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and artichokes are common soup ingredients. A bit of pasta may be cooked in the soup and a spoon of grated Gruyère added for garnish. Jambon-coquillettes is a favorite children’s meal: boiled pasta such as small shells or elbow macaroni with a bit of butter and mild grated cheese and a slice of jambon blanc (fresh ham, more meaty and less salty than the aged hams). Meat, especially red meat, and beef in particular, is considered important, as it is thought to donner des forces (build strength). It is recommended that children eat meat once each day, and parents enjoin their child to Mange ta viande! (“Eat your meat!”). Small children eat meat that is thoroughly cooked; older children are taught to appreciate beef that is saignant (“bloody,” i.e., rare), as adults do. Butchers grind to order children’s portions of steak haché (ground or chopped beef), which is then loosely patted into a flat oval shape to be pan fried. Escalopes de poulet (chicken cutlets) sautéed in butter or oil are popular. Vegetable purées, enriched with a little milk and a tiny quantity of butter, are essential preparations, along with bread to accompany everything. Food for children is ideally to be nutritious, tasty, and well textured. Soft foods, too many sweets, and too much sugar are avoided. Sodas are viewed as empty calories and are frowned upon. The same is true of fruit juices, seen as overly sugary, and a poor substitute for fresh fruit. In the morning, children are given hot milk or hot chocolate. Later in the day they may drink tisanes (herbal infusions) but no coffee or tea. Older children are expected to sit at table with adults, to eat the same foods that adults are eating, and to be polite and sociable. There is great concern among parents and at the level of the state to inculcate good eating habits in children. Parents want to raise healthy

Diet and Health


children who enjoy a good quality of life and who are equipped to be socially integrated. The state is concerned with public health, as it regulates the health care system and has the economic vitality of the country in mind. In secondary schools, the annual fall Semaine du goût and other initiatives teach children about the country’s culinary heritage and simultaneously present alternatives to la mal bouffe (“bad grub”). Beginning in the 1970s, the term mal bouffe or malbouffe was used to mean fast food and junk food. Now it can refer to any food considered unhealthy, an unbalanced diet, an unreflecting mode of eating. As part of the effort to protect the health of children by encouraging good eating habits, the state has forbidden the sale of soft drinks and candies in secondary schools and mandated that lessons on nutrition and health be incorporated into the national curriculum. Similarly, the state regulates television advertising, seen as exerting a nefarious influence on children’s health and eating and consumer habits. At present, for instance, commercials cannot occupy more than 12 minutes to the hour on television, and televised publicity for tobacco and for beverages containing more than 1.2 percent alcohol is forbidden.5

When care of the seriously ill still was given at home and predominantly by family members, household manuals and most cookbooks included a section with recipes for the treatment of the invalide (invalid or sick person). Today, “pectoral” broths and home remedies such as chest plasters have disappeared, in favor of the modern commercial pharmaceuticals that professional doctors prescribe. There remains little concept of specific foods appropriate for the ill; rather, adjustments are made to the diet overall. As in the United States, serious conditions are addressed with radical changes, such as a lowprotein diet in the case of kidney problems. In a nation of wine-drinkers, the crise de foie (“liver crisis”) was a classic complaint, extensible to nearly any malaise. Today, of course, avoiding alcohol is recommended against the more specific problems of cirrhosis or enzyme imbalance. There is, similarly, little conception of a special diet for the troisième and quatrième âges (third and fourth ages, i.e., retirement and old age: people ages 60 and older and 75 and older, respectively) outside of reducing portions to suit lower activity levels and a slower metabolism. For the minor, day-to-day complaints, smaller adjustments are made. In case of bouffissures or gonflements (swelling resulting from water retention), an effort is made to reduce the intake of wine, coffee, and


Food Culture in France

salty and rich foods such as cheese. For temporary illness affecting the appetite, light and easily digested foods are recommended. Against gastric ills, plain boiled rice and cooked carrots form the menu, and doctors recommend that one avoid green vegetables and salads, until the illness has passed. Purée de pommes (apple sauce) may also be given, as well as broths or light soups. Mineral waters high in magnesium, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, even a drink of pastis may be taken to improve digestion, and plain yogurt eaten to soothe the stomach and encourage beneficial intestinal flora. Tisanes or herbal infusions are enjoyed as after-dinner hot drinks or before bed, but they are also thought to have specific useful properties: rose hips against colds, chamomile to soothe the stomach, linden as a calming tea before bed. An after-dinner drink such as a Cognac or other fruit brandy is referred to as a digestif (digestive). The small shot of strong alcohol is thought to settle the stomach after a rich or large meal and to promote digestion. Knowledge of the medicinal properties of foods and notions of regulating health through diet are traceable to antiquity. The holistic approach to balancing the diet has its most ancient roots in the Greek theory of the four bodily humors, which had to be balanced through the best choice of foods for an individual’s constitution. Today, the view that connects health and diet through a notion of harmony and balance is completed by the conviction that adequate rest and relaxation, including proper vacations from work, are important for health. As a complement to the maintenance of health through a balanced, harmonious diet, there is also a cachet (gel capsule), comprimé (tablet), or pillule (pill) designed, it seems, for every health problem, no matter how small. That France is a highly medicalized country is due in part to the provisions of the outstanding national medical care. Coverage allows patients to choose their physicians, and it gives physicians great freedom to prescribe medications and tests. Consumer awareness and the ongoing development of new pharmaceuticals, including those to treat complaints such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension that are relatively common in the aging population, further contribute to this trend.6

As in most affluent countries where people have an embarras du choix (a wealth of choice—or too many choices), problems related to eating too much are on the rise. Conditions associated with an overabundant diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle, notably obesity, are becoming

Diet and Health


more prevalent. In 2006, INSERM, the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale or National Institute for Health and Medical Research, estimated that 1 of every 10 children is obese by the age of 10, twice the figure measured in 1980.7 Categorizations of weight as “normal,” “excessive,” and so on derive from the IMC or indice de masse corporelle (BMI or body mass index) established by the World Health Organization’s International Obesity Task Force. The IMC is a ratio calculated to evaluate a person’s weight status. It is defined as weight in kilograms, divided by the square of the height measured in meters. According to this ratio, overweight is defined as having an IMC of greater than 25; an IMC greater than 30 indicates obesity. In France as in the United States, putting on excess weight often results from the addition of snacks to the schedule of regular meals8; from eating for reasons such as boredom or stress, rather than hunger; from eating large quantities of sugar in sweets, processed foods, and sodas; and from a lack of adequate physical activity. Physicians and researchers observe higher incidences of gastric and intestinal disorders, diabetes, sleep apnea, and other conditions associated with excess weight. Overconsumption may bring or manifest psychological stresses, as well, especially as contemporary ideals of beauty for both men and women require a slender ligne (figure). Pathological behaviors related to eating and having psychological causes, such as anorexia and bulimia, slowly increase, along with the sale of weight loss products first developed in the United States and now infiltrating the French market. The progress of afflictions related to overconsumption, although alarming, is slower in France than in many other nations. This is due to the strong traditions of the family meal, to the sense of ceremony that accompanies eating, and to the fact that many families continue to cook regular meals at home and to take regular meals when dining out. In the last decade, the state has adopted an interventionist mode, encouraging, and even requiring, preventive measures as part of regular health care. A carnet de santé (health notebook) is established for each child at birth. The notebook is used to monitor preventable conditions throughout childhood. Doctors note such information as the dates of required vaccinations, any instance of dental decay, and domestic accidents. Since 1995, the notebooks contain a courbe de corpulence (corpulence curve) to track the child’s weight relative to a normal estimate for development based on the body mass index. A departure from the normal range on the curve sounds the alert. For cases of weight gain, doctors advise a modest reduction in portion size to be observed over the long term, avoidance of sweets and eating between meals, and

164 Food Culture in France the encouragement of physical activity such as walking and playing outdoors. The expanding market for domestic and imported produits biologiques (organic items) indexes the concern to eat the natural foods that are believed to be the healthiest. The notion of purity at work here should not be confused with the equally important matter of hygiene or cleanliness. and cotton that contain genes from bacteria providing resistance to herbicides (allowing for or requiring the use of pesticides) or insects (providing resistance to pests). a feature of organic farming. At present worldwide. thus pure. respond well to these ideals. The biggest bugbears are OGM or organismes génétiquement modifiés (GMOs or genetically modified organisms) and other corporate industrial agricultural practices such as the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in meat. procuring fresh food directly from a farmer remains an ideal. That is. the cheeses that they carefully craft from raw (unpasteurized) milk. FOOD SAFETY The safety of the food supply and the reliability of the federal and European governments in its regulation are contemporary preoccupations. Where these and later practices result in modifications within single species. and regional particularity. where most processed foods for sale contain ingredients from a genetically modified . herding and agriculture. they want to know the origins of what they eat. Terroir and the AOC label. the term OGM refers to transgenic alterations. however. with their references to quality. for instance. The French are notorious defenders of the salubriousness and unbeatable savor of. humans began to tinker with the natural selection of characteristics in plants and animals through hunting and gathering. an OGM is a plant or animal that has received genetic material from a different kind of plant or animal. corn. Long before the development of sophisticated techniques for breeding and hybridization. artisanal methods. traceable to a specific place and an individual producer. Ideally. Human interference with the genetic makeup of foods is traceable to prehistoric times. Although most edibles are purchased at grocery stores. Most genetically modified crops are grown (since 1994) in the United States. People want the foods that they purchase and eat to be natural and unadulterated for the purpose of commerce or convenience. as well as affordable. the most common transgenic foodstuffs and crops are soybeans. That people pay more for organic items suggests the additional ethical interest in supporting ecologically sustainable and nonpolluting methods of agriculture.

such as in the form of bone meal. That is. AB stands for Agriculture biologique or organically raised meat. In 1996. and environmentally harmful— combines with abiding suspicion of the state’s commitment to protect people. the spread of the disease was traced to the cannibalistic practice in industrial agriculture of recycling animal waste as feed. Two incidents that occurred in the mid-1990s provoked extraordinary social mobilization.9 The pervasive mistrust of transgenic foods and industrial farming practices—viewed as unnatural. For instance. unhealthy. administering growth hormones to animals destined to be sold for meat is illegal. Some of the feed was contaminated. Recent statutes regarding animals and meat give a sense of the strong interest in maintaining a safe. the European Union included a clause in the Treaty of Amsterdam that requires member states to protect the welfare of animals as sentient beings. This transpired shortly after the first known death (in 1995) in the United Kingdom from CreutzfeldtJacob disease. As tens of thousands of cows were put to death. In 1997. protest. animals raised for milk and meat have been carefully tracked. designed to produce truly white. rather than pink. In 1999. European Union regulations now prohibit oldfashioned methods for raising le veau sous la mère (milk-fed veal). flesh. the European market closed to imported beef raised on growth hormones. such as sheltering young calves from the light. As in the case of wine. should other crops accidentally be contaminated by a stray seed or by pollen. the human variant of BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. In France and the European Union. natural food supply in a manner that is also ethical and ecologically sustainable. France grows only a few hundred hectares of genetically modified crops. regional product. the AOC label indicates a typical. In 1998.10 Veterinary inspectors make regular visits to slaughterhouses. and as more people died including in France. and other changes have been enacted. and the European Union is currently financing studies to understand the harmful effects of hormones and also antibiotics in meat. The Label Rouge (red label) and Certificat de Conformité (quality standards certificate) indicate high grades of meat.Diet and Health 165 crop. which in fact largely follow the French system of controls that . The strong reaction in France and Europe to these incidents and practices helps to explain regulations currently in force. cows on industrial farms were being fed the remains of other slaughtered cows. transgenic foods are rare in Europe. cargo loads of American transgenic soy arrived in France. and debate. and the farmers who grow them are responsible for indemnities.11 Laws enacted in the 1990s multiplied the quality-control labels for meat. as well as a standard of quality. By contrast. the French system was modified to conform to European regulations. Since the late 1970s.

and unlike the United States. 136. Sandrine Blanchard. the date by which it is best consumed. Many people. follows the principe de précaution (precautionary principle) regarding transgenic modification. however.12 The current stance regarding OGM is slightly ambiguous. People remain aware of the sway that corporate and trading interests exert on the government. European rules began to require that the presence even of a small quantity of transgenic organism (0. effectively putting an end to the old moratorium. Alexandre Lazareff. According to the precautionary principle. Despite the legal ambiguity.166 Food Culture in France was already in place. cooking and eating that define living well à la française.” Le Monde (March 9. Since 2000. Europe began again to approve transgenic crops for importing. and identifying information for the slaughterhouse where it was killed and processed.5 percent of nonauthorized OGM for the European market) be indicated on labels for food and animal feed. L’exception culinaire française (Paris: Albin Michel. In 1998.” Archives des Maladies du Coeur et des Vaisseaux 80 (April 1987): 17–21. as testing of old applications continued. like Europe. then. and keen to protect the rich traditions of agriculture and artisanal production. 1998). the place of origin of the animal. Richard. 2. few people are willing to buy transgenic foods. maintain a remarkably vigilant attitude. the European Court of Justice continues to back countries that wish to ban genetically modified crops if they can demonstrate a health risk. “Les facteurs de risque coronarien: Le paradoxe français. with the burden of proof for safety resting on producers.9 percent of authorized and 0. which is responsible for regulation. L. meat sold prepackaged in supermarkets carries an identifying ticket indicating the cut of meat. NOTES 1. The year 2001 saw the creation of the AFSSA or Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments (French Agency for Food Sanitation and Security) to protect consumer interests. 2006). including France. including specialized consumer interest groups. J. Serge . implemented a ban on the sale of any new bioengineered crops.13 In 2004. France. transgenic crops and foods must be proven safe before they are made available to farmers and consumers. Against the rulings of other authorities such as the European Commission. In October 2003. The blanket bans on genetically modified foods have been superseded. by the labeling rules that make their presence transparent and that make transgenic products traceable. “Les Français consomment moins d’alcool et de tabac. 3. seven member states.

225 in Barbara Herr Harthorn and Laury Oaks. Le Régime Santé (Paris: Éditions Odile Jacob.inserm. and Health Ineqality (Westport.” p. 12 and 55–67. “Genetically Modified Foods: Shared Risk and Global Action. Kimberly Kabnick. étiquetage et émergence du ‘citoyenconsommateur’: l’exemple des OGM. 5 (September 2003): 450–54. eds.” Le Monde (March 21. 1989): 39–46 and “Wine. de Lorgeril. “Traçabilité. Chessel. 2002) and Manger aujourd’hui (Toulouse: Privat. 10. Au nom du consommateur (Paris: Découverte. 2002). 2003). Hervé Morin. “The Ecology of Eating: Smaller Portion Sizes in France Than in the United States Help Explain the French Paradox. 182–98 in Alain Chatriot. Sophie Chauveau. 6. no. Jo Murphy-Lawless. 13. Jean-Pierre Poulain.” p. 11. “Risk. 179 in Chatriot. and Christy Shields. platelets. Erin Pete. CT: Praeger.” The Lancet 339 (1992): 1523–26. 2003). 1995). “Dietary lipids and their relation to ischaemic heart disease: From epidemiology to prevention. . 208 in Chatriot. 7. Céline “Malades ou consommateurs? La consommation de médicaments en France dans le second XXe siècle. 5. 9. 12. Risk.” in Harthorn and Oaks. Sociologies de l’alimentation (Paris: PUF. Paul Rozin. http://www. 2004).” pp.” p. consommation et publicité télévisée. Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel. 8. Claude Fischler. “Obésité des jeunes” (May 2006).” Psychological Science 14. Chessel. and Hilton. Ethics. and Hilton. Monique Dagnaud. institutions et politiques publiques en France (1972–2003).Diet and Health 167 Renaud and M. 2006). “Qui défend le consommateur? Associations. and the French paradox for coronary heart disease.. and Serge Renaud. 196.” Journal of Internal Medicine 225 (Supplement 1. “Monsanto élabore les OGM de demain. Notes et études documentaires 5166 (Paris: La Documentation Française. alcohol. eds. 4. and Matthew Hilton. and Public Space: The Impact of BSE and Foot-and-Mouth Disease on Public Thinking. Enfants. Francesca Bray.. Alain Chatriot. Culture.


such as hams and sausages. crescent-shaped breakfast pastry. Déjeuner Lunch. Digestif Drink served after a meal. served as a composed salad for the first course of a meal. Collation Mid-morning snack for children. Charcuterie Cured meat products. Croissant Buttery.Glossary Amuse-bouche Appetizer. Cantine Canteen or cafeteria. slim crusty loaf of bread. Apéritif A drink taken before lunch or dinner and served with finger food such as nuts. or appetizers. . flaky. especially pork. mid-day meal. Also a café or coffee shop. Baguette Long. Boulangerie Bread bakery and shop. Café A small. Biscuits Cookies. Crudités Raw vegetables. Bouquet garni A bundle of fresh herbs dropped into broths and soups to lend flavor during cooking. Café au lait Coffee with hot milk drunk at breakfast. chips. strong coffee.

Stockfisch Salted dried codfish. Vinaigrette Oil and vinegar dressing. Pain au chocolat Croissant filled with chocolate. Pâte Pastry dough or bread dough. usually meat. Entrée The first course of a meal. after the entrée. Plat Main course of a meal. such as spaghetti or elbow macaroni. Fromage Cheese. like a pie with a bottom crust only. Tartine Bread spread with something. . the plat is the second course. such as a cooked salad. A great delicacy. also the cheese course of a meal.170 Glossary Dîner Dinner. Tarte Tart. Lard Fresh bacon used in cooking. Tourte Tart covered with a top crust and usually having a savory filling. Dragée Sugar-coated almond or Jordan almond. Poisson Fish. Pâtisserie Pastry. Potage Soup. Frites French fried potatoes. Foie gras Fattened liver of a canard (duck) or oie (goose). Tisane Herbal tea. evening meal. Goûter Afternoon snack for children. Viande Meat. such as butter or jam. or infusion. Réveillon Late festive meal served on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve. Merguez Spicy beef or lamb sausage. also the pastry bakery and shop. Petit-déjeuner Breakfast. Pâtes Pasta. Commission Européenne European Commission Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) National Institute of Health and Medical Research Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation (IEHCA) European Institute of Food History and Cultures http://www.chefsimon.Resource Guide WEB SITES. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) National Institute of Agronomic Research http://www.asso. AND OFFICES Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) Research Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions Chef Simon Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) National Institute of Denominations of Origin .

sante. Carnages (2002) by Delphine Recipes http://marmiton.172 Resource Guide Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (INSEE) National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies http://www.gouv. . Alimentation générale (2005) by Chantal Ministère de la Santé et de la Protection Sociale Ministry of Health and Social Protection http://www. L’Aile ou la cuisse (1976) by Claude MAGAZINES Chefs et saveurs L’Hôtellerie Néorestauration Omnivore Papilles 60 Millions de consommateurs Vins. Au Bon Beurre (1952) by Jean Dutourd. Le Boucher (1970) by Claude Chabrol. Philippine (1963) by Jacques Ministère de la Culture Ministry of Culture http://www.gouv.gouv. La Bûche (1999) by Danièle Thompson. saveurs et traditions FILMS Adieu. Une affaire de goût (2000) by Bernard Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale Ministry of National Education http://www.gouv.culture.

Masculin / Féminin (1966) by Jean-Luc Godard. La Cuisine au beurre (1963) by Gilles Grangier. Le Chagrin et la pitié (1972) by Marcel Ophüls. Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000) by Agnès Varda. . Mille et une recettes d’un cuisinier amoureux (1996) by Nana Dzhordzadze. Jean de Florette (1986) by Claude Berri. Nénette et Boni (1996) by Claire Denis. Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran (2002) by François Dupeyron. Les Quatre cents coups (1959) by François Truffaut. Mondovino (2004) by Jonathan Nossiter. La Femme du boulanger (1938) by Marcel Pagnol. 37°2 le matin (1986) by Jean-Jacques Beineix.Resource Guide 173 Chacun cherche son chat (1996) by Cedric Klapisch. Le Festin de Babette [Babettes Gaestebud] (1987) by Gabriel Axel. Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel. Métisse (1993) by Mathieu Kassovitz. Au Petit Marguery (1995) by Laurent Bénégui. Delicatessen (1991) by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. La Grande bouffe (1973) by Marco Ferreri. Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) by Jacques Becker. Cuisine et dépendances (1993) by Philippe Muyl. Manon des sources (1953) by Marcel Pagnol and version of (1986) by Claude Berri. Chocolat (1988) by Claire Denis. Le Week-end (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard. Vatel (1990) by Roland Joffé. Mon oncle (1958) by Jacques Tati. Les Stances à Sophie (1970) by Moshé Mizrahi. La Traversée de Paris (1956) by Claude Autant-Lara. Décalage horaire (2002) by Danièle Thompson. Le joli mai (1962) by Chris Marker.


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162–64 accras. 53 adulteration.Index absinthe. 165 aperitif. 6 . 161 alcoholism. recipe. 88–90. 70–71 aqueduct. 77 Algeria. 38. 77. 12. 164–66 AFSSA (Agence française de sécurité sanitaire des aliments). 156. 8. 120. 152 almond. 72. 121 apple. 164–66 aïgo-boulido. 48. 6 All Saints’ Day. recipe. 70–71. 11 apiculture. 4. 166 Agde. 41. 32. 3. 160 apricot. 71. 3–7. 11. 10–13. stewed. 156 ale. 129 alcohol. 18–28 angelica. 43–44. 147 anorexia nervosa. 8 Antilles. 33–34. 150. 163 Anthimus. 77. 148. 66 ancien régime. 13 animal welfare. 156. Council of. 7. 35–37. 2. 120. Nicolas. 11. 17–18 amphora. 75 Angevins. 16. 139 anchovies. See also dragée Alsace. 12 arbutus. 106–7. 5 Aquitaine. 86 appliances. 52. 73. 23 AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). 59 L’Aile ou la cuisse (Zidi). 141 anniversary. 155–56. 62. 17–18. 140 Aigues-Mortes. 33. 66. 9 agriculture. 6. 6. 132 aïoli. 23. 60. 73 Appert. 112–13. 139 À la recherche du temps perdu (Proust). 165 anise. 18. 126. 139 Americas. 1. 61. 148–49 Apicius. 77–78 abundance. 158–59. 77–78. 47. 4 anchoïade. 61 allec.

143–44 Baudelaire. 6. 5 Armistice Day. 17. 64. 143–44 Asia. 3. 83. 66. Decimus Agnus. 143 aurochs.). 13. 27. Charles. Roland. 67 Association des Maîtres cuisiniers de France. Nicolas. 126 Auvergne. 52 Bastille Day. 14 Bocuse. 128 blanc. 3. 152 Belgium. 48 blueberry. 120 Avignon. 19 Art de la cuisine française au 19e siècle (Carême). 95 Boileau. 3 Athenaeus. 119–20. 13. 27. 149–50 Index Battle of Fat and Lean. 11. 2. 23 Benedict of Nursia. 6. 70–71 bêtise de Cambrai. 144. 57. 51. 16 Boileau. 62 bass. 50 barley. 43 banana. 47 boarding house. 4. 71 baby food. 93. 134. 18. 62. 70 banquet. 18 Bonnefons. 6. 72 Biarritz. 149 barding. 30 bourride. 52 brains. 7 Barthes. 32–33. 72 berry. 9 Benin. 13. 85 berlingot. Nicolas de. 66 blanquette. 144 army (food). 17. 7. Jacques. 51–52 boulangerie. 92 Astérix. 139 asceticism. des Causses. 4. 17 Bordeaux. 159–60 bacon. 119–21 beet. 13. 132 bouillabaisse. 10. 6. Antoine. 3–4. 77 barrel. 3. 120 bagna cauda. 2. 12 Beauvilliers. 11. 135 bean. 2. recipe. 75 asparagus. 58 Attila the Hun. 163 boar. 17. 4. 2. 4 Atlantic Ocean. 13. 22. 157 Beaune. 16. sausage. 57 blood: in civet de lapin. 114. 60 Basque country. 144 Ash Wednesday. 5. 50. 8–11. 8. 138–41. 27 beaver. Étienne. 147–48 biscuit. 1 Ausonius. 11. 2 bistro. 19. 135. 30 artichoke. 49 brandade de morue. 62. 2 beef. 20–22. 24. 14. 144. 10–11. 149. 11. 77. 19. 118 bouquet garni. 151 avocado. 6. 65 beignet. 35–36 Borel.186 Arles. 47. 120. 66.R. 96. 133 basil.S. 60 bourgeoisie. 124 Art de bien traiter (L. 8. 46. 165–66 beer. 1. 65 baeckeoffe. 142. 53 . 6. See bread bakers. 70 BMI (body mass index). 13. 8 authenticity. 6 Aucassin et Nicolette. 121 birthday. 52. 113–14 Bleu d’Auvergne. 8–11. 7. Paul. 121–22. 43 bay leaf. 1. 60 beach food. 66 baguette. 128–29 barbecue. 146–47 bar.

root. recipe. 4. 151 cannibalism. 8. 120 bread. 25 butter. 13. 159 Brie de Meaux. 64. 13. 157. 77. Café de Flore. 144. 76. 57 Brillat-Savarin. 56–57 caper. 143–44. 3–4. 24 cafeteria. 26. 165 Cantal. 6. 127–28. 72 calvados. 131. 62. 62. 156. 157 caterer. 13. 108–11. 51. 73. Brasserie Lipp. 77. Jean Anthelme. 11–12 Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii (Charlemagne). 134. 54. 103–4. 11. 4. 12–14 Charlemagne. 65. 6 Celts. 12 chanterelle. 165 bûche de Noël. Café Procope. 26 cattle. 29–30. 96 cassis. 5 chamomile. 78 Camargue. 62 Camembert. 139 buckwheat. 77 broccoli. 14. 57. 143 187 candy. 54.Index brandy. 18. 17 La Chanson de Roland. 84. 65 Cabécou. 52 breastfeeding. 163 Burgundians. 145 Carnival. 44. 10–12 . 1. 105. 10–12 carp. 121–24 cake. 32–33. 127–28. See also brasserie Britain. 47–48. 146 caramel. 52 Carré de l’Est. 138–39. 76 cassoulet. 58. cotton. 49. 14 butcher. 106–7 bream. crêpes. 92. 3 cauliflower. 26–27. 140 Carême. 147 Champlain. 62 bulimia. 23. 1 celery. 3 Capetians. 66. 11. 151–52 Carolingians. 16 chard. 162 Champagne. 3. 121. 62–63 bulgar. recipe. 57 carrot. 12–13. 3. seed. 143 cabbage. 67 cave painting. 107. 145 caraway. 141–42 breakfast. 65. 56 Cadet de Gassicourt. 3. 119. 6. Marie-Antoine. 112 brewery. 4 café. 22. 77 cardiovascular disease. 11 capon. 162 carving. 147. 131. 13. 6. 77 cena. 60 carbonade. 49. 11. 24. 149 calf’s head. 57 Candlemas. 144. 162 cardoon. 25–26. 41–43. 6. 28 BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). 97 broiling. 73. 16. 162 brasserie. 3. 7. 72–73. 140–41 charity. 34. 21 charcuterie. Julius. 66. Samuel de. 65. 29 Brittany. 34 Caesar. 151–52 canned food. 6 Burgundy. 49 calisson d’Aix. 146 Catholicism. 69 Chantilly. 120. 2. 4. 149 charcutier. 22. 120. 121–22 Cannes. 67 brochette.

70. 2. 18 cream. 6. 156. 15. 42. 138. 6. 53 courses (of a meal). 145 compote. 165 Crieries de Paris (Guillaume de Villeneuve). 56–57 chicken. 143. recipe. recipe. 10 christening. 157 Corsica. 139 Club des Cent. 60–61. 5 cook. 121. 68. 30. 3. 146–47. 58 chef. 129. brûlée. 71 civet de lapin. 115 confectionary. 16 critic (food). 19–20. 17–18. 27. 75. 160 cholesterol. 73 Chauvet. 159. 2–3. See also beef crab. 32. 64. 103. 66. 23. 62–63 Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease. 50 Civil Law Code. 27–28. 78 chausson. 95 cocktail. 1 cheese. 13. 162 cooking school. 157 chrism. 64. 72. 68. 73. 13. 13. 138–39 coffee. 4. 63–69. 112–13. 145 . 30. 72–73. 9. 77 cinnamon. 17 comfit. 59. 119. 156–57 convivium. 74. 69. Christopher. 144. 22. 145 communion. 5. 85 chitterling. 53. 72–73 confit (de canard and d’oie). 2. 7. 86 condiment. 56. 78. 1. 120. 130 cow. 71. 49. 139 cirrhosis. 62 coronary disease. 71. 91–92 coriander. 59. 143. apple. 96–97. puffs. 87 cookie. candied. 65 crème: anglaise. 65 crêpes. 118 chicory. 159 children’s meals. 11. 15. 91–100 cherry. 156–57 couscous. 11. 58–59. 134. 74. 118. 71 cranberry. 119. 7. dried. 15. 69. 107–8 Cognac. 28–29. 15. 89–91 cookbook. 161 citron. break. 60 chestnut. 60–61 chocolate. 162 Cointreau. 19. 66. 6. 2. 52–53. 19–20. 105. recipe. 48 chive. fraîche. 27 clam. recipe.188 Chartreuse. 24. sour. 127. 137–42 cider. 159–61 China. 53 Clermont-Ferrand. 160 conviviality. 129–30 cooking methods. 165. 33. 59. 112. 16. 73. 6. 54. 13. 135. 44. 87–90. 72 chèvre. 105–6. 160 chickpea. 75 chiffonnade. 56–58. 144 Cortès. 6 chervil. 61–62. 112–15. 158. buckwheat. 147. 8. 131–32. salted. 131. 111. 17 Cosquer. 13. 9. 8–12 Christmas. 50–51 conversation. 148–49 cod. 12. 13. 145–46 Christianity. 56. 30. 6. 61 clove. 13. 17–18 Columbus. 75. 106–8. 22–24. 65 childbirth. 22. 9. 77–78. 119 croquembouche. 99–100 croissant. 14–15. 107–10. 2. 145 corn. 78 Index colonies. 131 Columbian exchange. 49–54. 97–99. 1 Côte d’Azur. Hernando. 88. 45–47.

64 Crottin de Chavignol. 32 fennel. 85 cuisine gastronomique. 5. 103–5. 37–38. 109–11. 70 cuttlefish. 51. 155–56 date. 125 crudité. 66 festival. 57 emmer. des Arts et des Métiers (Diderot). 59. red. ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. goose and duck. 3. 22 Le Cuisinier françois (La Varenne). 25 Dieppe. 149 crusades. 69–75. 150–52 feudalism. 65. 61 Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland). 162 Dijon. 9–10. 69 Dom Perignon. 151–52 famine. Benjamin. 55–58. 96. 52. 26. 4 Delessert. 139 dragée. 82. 49–51 Easter. 22 education (taste). 145–46 duck. 59. 54 dairy products. 114 decentralization. 11. 82 disguise (in cooking). 121–22 ethics. 13. 3. 52 egg. 70–71 . 95–97 Le Cuisinier (Pierre de Lune). 66 Enlightenment. 77–78. 10 daube. 156–57 Father’s Day. See banquet La Femme du boulanger (Pagnol). Ministry of Education. 6. ou de l’Éducation (Rousseau). 19 La Cuisinière bourgeoise (Menon). 26 Emmental. 25–26 endive. 147 eggplant. 1 elderberry. 124–25 currant: black. 10. 64 feast. 57 Escoffier. 66. 67–68. 77 cucumber. 112–15 discount store. 108–9 eel. 19 Le Cuisinier roïal et bourgeois (Massialot). 165–66 fair. See also regions deer. 19 distilling. See PAC (Politique agricole commune) fast food. Augustin. 70. 31. 24–27 Epiphany. 164–65 Ethiopia. 3. 20. 71 Émile. 6. 23. See agriculture farm subsidy. 11–14 fig. 77–78 dog. 66 cuisine du marché. 22 cumin. 143–44 189 L’École parfaite des officiers de bouche. See hunger farming. 9. 1. 143–44. 15. 113. 46. 131–32 fasting. 56 Croze. See venison Deipnosophistae (Athenaeus). 1. 13 digestif. 143–44 fat. 163 Diderot. 142 Époisses. 145–47 diabetes. 23 Eucharist. 5. 69. 138–42. 73 dinner. recipe. 11 einkorn. 153 fava. 6. 156. 17. 11. 50–51.Index croquette. 68 Einhard the Frank. 125–26. 137–39. 8–9 European Union. 12–13. 19. 2. Auguste. 121–22. 6. Denis. 26. 69 dessert. 70. 5 Encyclopédie. 23 demi-deuil.

146. 71 Goscinny. 132 foreign cuisines. 112. 119. 106. 60 Fischler. 47. 20. 24. 5. 78. 76 grilling. 12 French East India Company. 49–51 gooseberry. 10–12 French (language). 58 Guérard. 71. 70 gamelle. 18 goat. 159 frozen food. 15. 2. 25–26. 27–30. 43 foie gras. candied. 5–8 game. 13 gastronomy. See Celts Gault. 126. 99 Gruyère de Comté. 144 Le Gobeur d’oursins (Picasso). 3. 11. 3 Goths. 138 Grand-Marnier. recipe. 9. 138. 29. 6. 53 God and gods. recipe. 54. 6. 93 . 44 grapefruit. 69–71. Henri. 107. 59 gluttony. 6–8 gin. 62 gaufrier. 1 food fight. 74 grape. 159 fishing. 134 Grimod de la Reynière. 56 Gaulle. 112 goûter. 157 French toast. 140. 2. 135 French paradox. 133–34 Ford. 23 guava. 63. 75 Fouquet. 2. 1. 82–83 fruit. 157 Font-de-Gaume. 5–8. 140 Index garum. 6. Michel. 6. 156. 3. 66. 120 flan. 6. 17 Guérande peninsula. 19 Gargantua (Rabelais). 114. 28–29. soup. 2–3. 160 funeral. 51–52 flammekeuche. 13. 75 Greeks. 25–26. 112 GMO (genetically modified organism). 4. 48–49 garlic. 13. 141. 6–8. 68 flour. 8 galette des Rois. 16 Gaul. 5. 130–31 fork. 4. 97. 71 Grasse. 50–51. 20–21 Framboisine. 51–53. 16 fougace. 11. 5. 64 garden (kitchen). 112 gâteau de riz. 58 gourd. 13. 131 fromage blanc. 8. 8–9 goose. 3. See snack grain. 147. 8 gougères. 135. 164–66 Goa. Henry. 19. 6. Claude. 3. 145 grenadine. 142 Gallo-Romans. 97 gentian. 56. 138. 18. juice. 5. 159–60. Nicolas. 122 garbure.190 fines herbes. 3. 57 Guadeloupe. 78 ginger. 17. 2. 5 gourmandise. 125 Gauls. 11 Gascony. 21 formula (baby). 60–61. 111 frog. 47. 23 French fries. 159 fouacier. 147 Galen. 112. Charles de. 8. 12. 9. See Battle of Fat and Lean le fooding. 74 François I. 34. 13 Franks. 126 fish. 78 Germans. 120. 78 granité.

162 inn. 76. 75 industrialization. 130–31 import. 65 hospital. 12. 6. 14 hot chocolate. 19. 73 immigrant cuisines. 105. 6. 160–64 heart. 78 kebab. 137–45. 6. Johann. 19 lavender. 60. 152–53 hollandaise. 145. 74 jam. 157–58. 2. 71 . 149 hunger. 1 La Varenne. 160. 7. 43. 52 Jordan almond. 85 India. 4. 73 Henri IV. 52 Gutenberg. 6. 66 harissa. 46 hydromel. 49. 71 Israel. 61 harmony. 16. 23 herb. 118. 123. 18. 26 juniper berry. 46–47 horseradish. 152 hake. 30–31. 93 INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale). 122. 15 Les Halles. 11–12 lamb. 1. 10 haute cuisine. 124–26. 163 Isère. 52 ham. 71 Jerusalem artichoke. 14 INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique). 6. 83–84 Guillaume de Tirel (Taillevent). 5. 74. See dragée Julie. 72 health. 17 Jews. 5 holidays. 64. 144 Languedoc. 61 John Dory. 135 Île de Ré. 70. 58 île flottante. 146 gurnard. 28. 1. public. 61–62. 115 hostel. ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (Rousseau). François Pierre de. 47–48 Lascaux. 85 Halloween. 3. 57–58. 34. 1. 12. 58–60. 19. 49 hedgehog. 162 harvest. 75. 1 hunting. 11 hypertension. 13. 70 knight. 158–59 hospitality. national. 8–9. 12–14. 73. 11. 4. 54 lardon. 7. 97–99. 26 hunter-gatherer. 149–50. 156–57. 120.Index guide (restaurant). See brochette kidney. 156–57. 11. 129. 113. 60. 14–15 Guinea fowl. 49. 124–25 Le Guide culinaire (Escoffier). 48. 8. 6. 65. 50. 4. 67. 162 191 ice cream. See cuisine gastronomique hazelnut. 66–67 honey. 60 heritage: 109–10. 135. 50 haricot. 67. 49 kiwi. 159 Honfleur. 46. 33 infusion. 161 herring. 6. 53 Hippocrates. 157 lard. 139. 150–52. 77 horse. 11. 26–27. 160 hare. 96 guild. 130. 9–10. 75 house-warming. 13. 71 jelly. 13 hops. 85 Italy. 78 herbes de Provence. 2.

10–11 Le Mesnagier de Paris. Pierre Carlet de. 147 Lebanon. 82 leek. marsh. 19 lunch. 21–22 Monaco.R. See also foie gras Livre des métiers (Étienne Boileau). 2. 6. 64 Le Play. 13. 141 Menon. 9. 152 Malraux. 13. 165–66 media. 14 . 6. 156–57 Lille. 6. 53 madeleine. Édouard. 59 Meilleur Ouvrier de France. 113. 159–60. Frédéric. recipe. 31 lettuce. 125 malt. 34. 11. 77 monastery. 3. 120 mace. 128 Mercier. 162–63 Molière. Pierre de. 45–51. 161 mallow. 10. complaint. 160 millasse. 150 Marseille. 62 Leclerc. 52 McDonald’s. 27. 2. 2. 70 Louis XIV. 53. 143–44 lentil. 73. 121–22. 147 Lune. Louis-Sébastien. 129. 157–59. 48. 157 medicine. 23. 10 mint. 77 maize. provisionary. 9. 60 Index market. 49. 38 life expectancy. 73. 155–57. 70–71. 23. 22 Massilia. 9. 11 millet. 5. 9. 77–78 liver. 61. 100 Middle Ages. See Marseille Mauresque. See corn malbouffe. 23 marzipan. 146 Loire River. 94–95. 66. 9. 122. 13. 94–95 merguez. 134. 23. 22 Michelin guide. 85. 13. 52 Lorraine. 19 Lyon. 1. 57. 11. star rating in. 23. 76. 95. 6. 25. 135 miracle. 20 moderation. 66 mackerel. 143 Martini. 66. 59 mâche. 12–16. 108–11. 151 Merovingians. 27 lovage. 77 mayonnaise. 71 Lent. 111. 99–100. 6. 145 milk. 18. 76–78. 6. 30 lime. 78 Martinique. 60 Le Havre. 76. 162 Mediterranean diet. 162 liqueur.S. 13 lemon. Christian. 22 menu. 8. 77 Marivaux. 20–23 Louis XVI. 132 meat. 139 Massialot. 97 miller. 16 lobster. 71 linden. 26 les Mères. 4.192 layer cake. 3. 18 Lot-et-Garonne. 156 Mediterranean Sea. 18 Millau. 4. 28 Mexico. 124–25. 18 Louis XVIII. 10. 129. 161. André. 3–5. 103–5. 24 marjoram. 2. 20. 6 L. 27–28.. 92 melon. 93. 129–30 Maine. 65–66 liberalism. 51–54. 55–56. 11 mise en place. 15 metric system. 55.

53 Odoacer the Goth. 53. 73 offal. 57 morel. 2. 143. 8 octopus. 62. 52 oven. 9 193 nut. 112 mushroom. 17–18. 1 Nice. Hervé. 139 pasta. 120 onion. 1. 120. 13 obesity. 11–12 North Sea. 5. 73 Mulhouse. 57 Morbier. 74. 97–98 Numidia. 66. 9. 85. 10. Gustav-Adolf. 118. 6. 13 Napoléon I. 77 pan bagnat. 38. 53. 74 Parmentier. 162–64 De observatione ciborum (Anthimus). 139. 5–7. 118 pantner. 48–49 oil. 73. 61.Index Monbazillac. 120 mustard. 141. 35. 3. 145 nutmeg. 66. 14 papaya. 138 PAC (Politique agricole commune). 60. 115–16 Opéra. olive omelet. 11. 156 pain au chocolat. 74. 69 Muslims. 61. 75. 156. 60. 17 Paris. 6. 1 olive. 4. 121. 139. 141 nouvelle cuisine. 6. 9. 8. 7. 16 oursinade. 6. See also oil. 59 nutrition. 7. 164–66 nectarine. 1. 143 Nîmes. 12 oyster. 16. 144–45 New Zealand. 73 pain d’épices. 27–28. 141 orgeat. 72. 100 Mosella (Ausonius). 59 myrtle. 120 Paris-Brest. 71. 18 parsley. 161 oats. 2. 70 Niaux. 61 Normandy. 26. 76 oubloyer. 139 orange flower water. 6. 121 Napoléon III. 52. 3. 54. white. 89 oxen. 71–72. 3. 22 New Stone Age. 151 nobility. 54–55. 59. 112 monk. 11–12. 53 nougat. 19. 61–62. 78 monkfish. 11. 57 Muscat. 6 nun. 146 Mons. 70. 10. 6 oeufs à la neige. 1–2 New World food. 67 New Year’s. 69 Morocco. Auguste. 61. 6 partridge. 52 Munster. 160 . 109–10. 139 panaché. 14–15 noodle. 121 nationalism. 50 Pas-de-Calais. 153 mousse au chocolat. 70 Netherlands. 30 mullet. olive. 49 mussel. 6 Nantes. 77 Normans. 8 Mossa. 6. 150 natural food. 10. 74 Orange. 144 Mother’s Day. 22–23. 23. 5 orange. 119 Ojibwa. 18 Old Stone Age.

132 plague. 69 Pernod. 74 pâtissier. Gregory III. 71 pressure cooker. Zaccharias. 15 processed food. 13 plaice. 72 pissaladière. 139 Picasso. Urban II. 52 pilgrim. 59. 13. 17. 112. 126. 7. 135 prawn. 103. 145 Le pâtissier pittoresque (Carême). 119. 62 pomegranate. 49 . black. 13. 49 Phocaeans. 14 pineapple. 12. 3. 47–48. 104–5. 73 praline. 6 72 Index pistou. 49–51 pound cake. 55 pastis. 3. 15. 90 printing. 4. 65. 70 peanut. Pablo. François. 60 pizza. 1. 73–74. Leo III. chili. 25. 139. 157. 65. 64 pumpkin. 12 pork. 6 persillade. 28–29. green. 47 population. 114–15 pottery. 161 pheasant. 17. puff. 33 La Physiologie du goût (Brillat-Savarin). 65. 17 potato. 75 Périgord. 67–68. 69. 11–13. 134–35 pièce montée. 18. 18. cured (see charcuterie) portion size. 166 pregnancy. 53 precautionary principle. 37 Proust. 6. 70. 59 perfume. white. 15. 110. 3. 1–4 preserves. 135 pear. 17–19. 142. 152 quail. 53 picnic. 70–71 pulse. 12. 29 Picardie. 115 pike. 52 pleasure. 6.194 pasteurization. 59. 129 Provence. 1–2 poule-au-pot. 64. 17 pine nut. 77 perroquet. 72. 72 pharmaceutical. 158–59 prehistory. 9. 17 petit-four. 55. 6. 6. 61–62. 70 Pont-l’Évêque. long. 107. Malagueta. 163 Portugal. 60 pistachio. 6. 2. 114 Pouligny-Saint-Pierre. 46. 1. 112 plum. 6. 78 Persia. 9. 145 patrimony. 51. See Greeks phylloxera. 32 pennyroyal. 49. 145–47 pig. 70–71 polenta. 5. 68. 10. See heritage Le Paysan parvenu (Marivaux). 17–18. 118. 2. 63–64 pot-au-feu. 15. 6 pepper: bell. 120 peasant. pigs’ feet. 60 Peru. 6. 66 peach. 24 protectionism. 69–74. 132 Procope. 64. 77–78. 46. 10. 70. Marcel. 57 pope: Eugenius IV. 52. 70. 3. 56 poultry. 24 pea. 139–42 prune. 59 peppercorn. 47–48. 25–26. 162 pastry. 145 Le pâtissier royal parisien (Carême).

113– 14. 152 salsify. 66 rockfish. 13. 52. 65 salt. 70–71 ratatouille. François. of life. 129– 30. 13–17. 121 Robuchon. 57 salad. 97 rowanberry. chains. 122. 30–32. 165–66 Renaissance.Index quality: of food. 88. 52. 16 safety (food). 70 rice. 156 recipe. Sylvester. 53 . paste. 159. 141–42. 139. 30 Rouff. 26 Roussillon. 89 regions. 75 rôtisseur. 59 Rabelais. 120. 35–37. 62–63. Nicholas. for madeleines. for pompe à l’huile. 22. 156–57. 11. 10 rhubarb. 60 Savoy cabbage. 109. 144. 4. 74 sacrifice. 145 restaurant. 132–33 rationing. 6. 125–26. 71. 138–41 Revolution (of 1789). 8 sardine. 138 salon. 2. 112 Savarin. 6. 140. 65. 112 Ritz. 104–5. 14 sauerkraut. Joël. 10. 3. 98–100. 56–57 rose hips. 13. 53 saucier. 74 Saint-Marcellin. 86. 67. 6 rye. 160 Salvian of Marseille. 16 Rouen. 26–27. 48. 50. 8. 4–10. 8. 6. for aïgo-boulido. 52 quince. 9. 164–66 saffron. 131–32. 6. 7. 58–59. 52 Rousseau. 8 Roquefort. 48–49 radish. for gougères. 71 raspberry. 147. 149 Rhine River. Jean Jacques. César. 62 195 sabayon. 144–45 Saint-Honoré. 110–11. 6. 87. 74 roux. 124–28. for cabillaud à la portugaise. 11 refrigerator. 62. 59 sage. 120 sausage. 48. 59 quenelle. 59. 11. 14–15. for ratatouille. recipe. 20. Marcel. 119–21. 60 saint. 27. 145 Rome. 165–66. 112. 11. 8–9. 123 réveillon. 52 Roman Empire. 91–96. 16. 62. for blanquette de veau. 162 rosemary. 156– 57. for compote de pommes. 68 rationalization. coupon. 61. 60 rosewater. 65 raisin. 119. 3. 166 quatre épices. See also wild rice rillettes. 10. 22. 71 rue. 58. for galettes bretonnes. Martin. 57 savory. 93 rocket. 70 rabbit. 19. 115–16 De re coquinaria (Apicius). 117. 65–66. 3. 70–71. 124 rouille. Sadalberga. 134 sautéing. 65 scallop. 71 salmon. 34–35. 6. 11 Romans. 124–26. 38. 121. 150–52 regulation. for soupe à l’oignon. 1. 68.

34–35. 122–23 thyme. 61. 81–85 shrimp. 156–57. 141. 7. 6 shellfish. 71. 65. 72–73. 70 syrup. recipes. 120. 78 sweetbread. 130 St. 159. à la française. 65 Spain. 18. 25. 14 Taylor. 65 . 3. 23. 78 tomato. 6. 88 Tomme de Savoie. 17. 3. 111–12. 119 Tartuffe. See Guillaume de Tirel Talleyrand. 147. 119 tabbouleh. 34–35.196 sculpture (sugar). 22–23. 20. 160. 68. 49 squid. 4. 88–89 Strasbourg. 30. 96 serviceberry. 22. 107. 147. 30 tarragon. 104. 145 searing. 129. 32–34. ou l’Imposteur (Molière). 6 sorbet. à la russe. 74 soup. 72. 115–16. 49 Syria. 66–67. 120 sorb apple. 60 tomate. 76. 1. 112 sea urchin. 161–63. 6. 150–52 tourte aux blettes. 28. 165 skate. 60 sheep. 71 Shrove Tuesday. 115 sustainability. 52–53 semolina. 118 socialism. 119. 10 stockfisch. Mme de. recipes. 160 sole. 97. 23 smoking. 107. Tatin. See under cod stove. 70–74. 46–47. 53. Gall. 50 socca. 60 tart. 30 soda. 71. 2. 98. 125 tavern. 17–18. 111. 164 Suze. 23–24 sunchoke. 6. 93 Serres. 52 slave. 132 tea. 46 Taillevent. 8 Third Republic. 16. 28. 49 Theuderic. 11 Index strawberry. 160. 65. 120. 17–19. 65–66. 54. 76. 15. 124–25. 81–85. 23 service: à l’assiette. See Jerusalem artichoke supermarket. 120 tartine. 6 Seven Deadly Sins. 119 snack. 15. 57. 121. 62 Tableau de Paris (Mercier). 2. 53–54 shopping. 143–44 sickness. 159 supper. 26 tagine. shop. 95. 140 sorrel. 23. 21–22 Taste Site. 139 spinach. 139 snipe. 6. 37. 57 tongue. 141 split pea. 21 shallot. 163 snail. 115. 104. 5. beet. 54 sugar. 124 tourism. 10. 118–19 suet. 67. 52. 26 table d’hôte. Olivier de. 125–26 testicle. en salle. 119. 32. 25. 6. 120 tartare. Frederick. 112. 70–71 street food. 129 terroir. 49 Tour de France gastronomique (Curnonsky and Rouff). 112 Sévigné. 75 spelt. 159 Senderens. Strasbourg Oath. 30. 64 squab. 62 spices. 70. 58–60. 53 steak-frites. Alain. 75.

23 Le Viandier (Guillaume de Tirel). 33–37. 125. 165. 5 vermouth. 113. 31–32 World Health Organization. 13. 16. 49 Troisgros. 61 turbot. 15 wheat. 120. 3–5. 13. 6 197 waffle. 78 Versailles. 60 Vienne. 128–29. 10. 134 vending machine. 121. 85 zucchini. 157–59 women. 44. 76. 2–5. 78 trout. See also Fischler. 10–14. 104. François. 6. 65 UCO (Unidentified Comestible Object). 55 United States. 16 vinaigrette. 140. Hundred Years War. 71 wedding. 160. 160 vacation. FrancoPrussian War. 1. 52 Turkey. 98 trou normand. 20–21 veal. 16 waiter. 20–21 Vaux-le-Vicomte. 94–95 woodcock. 46. 3. Napoleonic Wars. 89–90. 86–87. 150 transubstantiation. 21. Émile. 9 Trente glorieuses. 2. 8. 162 young cuisine. 47 Le Ventre de Paris (Zola). 18 wine. 125 tripe. 52 Troyes. 11. 59. 65–68. 8. 6 yogurt. 85 turkey. 75 VAT (value added tax). 155–56 water. 28. 93. 26. 37–38 train. 132 Zola. 5. 65–66 vinegar. 4. 27 vegetable. 5 Villeneuve. 43–45. 143–44. 158. 71. 65 watermelon. 113–14 Véfour. recipe. 5. 123 Vatel. 119. 52. 56. 96 walnut. 145–47 weekend. 109–10. 6 truffle. 68 . 17–18. 159. 164–66 urbanization. 6. 10–11.Index toxoplasmosis. 162 vegetarian. First World War. 161 whale. Claude. 52 wild rice. Guillaume de. 156 Trésor gastronomique de la France (Croze and Curnonsky). 121–22. 138. 122. 67–68. 113–15 Week of Taste. 50 worker. 162 vanilla. 2. 85 verbena. 156. 7. 6. 45. 162 watercress. 98 Zidi. 1. 24–25. 159 traceability. 108 venison. Claude Uderzo. 61 whiting. 165–66 trade. 75 Visigoths. 106. 30–31 utensil. 138 turnip. Second World War. 4–5. Michel. 23. 14–15 vichyssoise. 49. 97. 76 Vercingétorix. 118 Tunisia. 69 tuna. 9. 11. 17. 3 UHT sterilization. 71 war: Battle of Fat and Lean. 59 violet. 120–21 transhumance. recipe. 126. 4–6. 13. 163 wrasse.


.ABOUT THE AUTHOR JULIA ABRAMSON is Associate Professor of French at the University of Oklahoma. Norman.

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